By: Brian Robinson, Policy Fellow
Last week, the US Department of Education and the Data Quality Campaign welcomed policy makers, parents, researchers, educators, and students from all over the country to the Cleveland Park Library in Washington, DC. Our task was to work in groups to design a prototype for a school report card that meets the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA was signed into law in 2015 by President Obama and requires that state education agencies develop report cards for each school that provides accurate, accessible, and actionable data to the public.
Many states will assign letter grades (A-F) or stars (1-5) to schools based on a pre-determined formula that largely takes into account academic achievement and growth measured by student performance on statewide-standardized assessments. In D.C., policymakers have committed to a School Transparency and Reporting System (STAR) framework. All traditional public schools and public charter schools will receive a STAR rating (ranging from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the highest).
By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist
Here’s your weekly rundown of education local/national news and events here in the District.
SBOE QUOTED IN THE NEWS
D.C. Officials Irked by Report of Unlicensed Teachers | Washington Informer
Statement on Mayor’s Veto of School Promotion and Graduation Fairness Emergency Act of 2018 | Markus Batchelor
How 2 Communities in DC, One White One Black, Work Together | Afro
Detroit schools will hire teachers without classroom experience, sparking debate | Chalkbeat
Detroit’s main district is proceeding with a plan to hire teachers who are certified but have received no training in the classroom — adding an element of controversy to efforts to fill hundreds of teacher vacancies by the end of summer.
Indiana State Board of Education approves graduation pathway policy | Fox59
The Indiana State Board of Education (Board) on Wednesday approved policy guidance for Graduation Pathways by a 10-0 vote. The policy guidance will be used by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and schools across the state to implement Graduation Pathways, which the Board approved in December 2017.
Controversial Discipline Program Not to Blame for Parkland School Shooting, Commission Finds | EdWeek
A controversial school discipline program adopted by the Broward County, Fla., district to reduce student arrests cannot be blamed for the shooting by a former student there, a state commission said Tuesday.
By: Abby Ragan, Policy Fellow
My name is Abby Ragan and I am finishing up a term as a Policy Fellow here at the State Board. I graduated magna cum laude from American University last December with a bachelor’s in International Relations. Although my background has been more in the nonprofit space, I later realized I wanted to pursue a career in education policy and soon obtained a job offer joining Teach For America (TFA) here in the District of Columbia. Because of the gap between a December graduation and a summer start to my commitment with TFA and, thus, the opportunity to really explore anything I wanted, I searched long and hard for experiences where I would feel like I was making a difference and learning new things about the world around me.
In thinking about the months since, I know I will never be able to put into words the growth I have experienced here. As it comes to a close, I look forward to taking this new knowledge forward into the classroom as a English teacher this coming fall. Unlike many other internships and fellow positions, I didn’t spend my time making coffee or filing papers. At the State Board, I have had the opportunity to really engage with policy during a huge time of change for the District by writing memos and resolutions and watching DC Council hearings as well as push my research, data management, and writing skills to the next level. I have learned so much about the policy process and the educational landscape of the District while making a real impact on SBOE work, and I have never felt more a part of the DC community.
By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow
On April 25th, three big names in education policy research gathered to discuss the implications of the 2017 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) results. All three are senior fellows at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Chester Finn is the president emeritus of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and a member of the Maryland State Board of Education. He has been at the forefront of the national education debate for 35 years. Eric Hanushek is a widely-cited researcher known for his combination of economic analysis and educational issues. He has authored or edited 24 books and over 200 articles, and earned his Ph.D in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Finally, Paul Peterson is currently a government professor at Harvard University and the senior editor of Education Next magazine. Four of his more than 30 books have been recognized by the American Political Science Association as the best works in their field. The discussion was moderated by Amber Northern, the senior vice president for research at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
“What do the scores mean?” was the first question posed to the group, and each speaker had a different take on the NAEP data: “each year we generate excitement about a flat line” was Dr. Hanushek’s response; “something changed in 2009” was Dr. Peterson’s response; and Dr. Finn noted that the achievement gains in NAEP have been inequitable. But the conversation quickly focused on accountability – did the scores flatline in 2009 because of the end of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) -era provisions, or in spite of them? Dr. Chester pointed out that the heavy-handed accountability may have worked to elevate scores for a time, but the flattening NAEP scores in later years of the Act demonstrated a ceiling for student achievement under the NCLB provisions. The panelists agreed with his point, but were also quick to note that NCLB was a “bad law” which the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has done a great job in replacing.
By: Abby Ragan, Policy Fellow
On April 25, The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institute and George W. Bush Institute co-hosted a forum called “Beyond Reading and Math: How to Accelerate Success for Students.” Under the new federal school accountability law, ESSA, states and schools now have the ability to both widen the definition of school accountability and push towards improved school quality and student achievement. The forum featured framing remarks by Jason Botel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education, and a roundtable. Furthermore, the event publicized the release of a new Hamilton Project strategy paper on ESSA implementation, discussing state strategies for reducing rates of chronic absenteeism and framing the conversation going forwards.
After Mr. Botel grounded the forum’s conversation in student-centered solutions and empowered state innovation, the research authors presented their findings on chronic absenteeism. Theories connecting being physically present in school to better academic outcomes have never been more substantiated, yet NAEP scores show stagnation nationwide and a widening gap between subgroups while about 6.8 million students in the United States missed more than three weeks of school during the 2013- 2014 school year (Attendance Works and Everyone Graduates Center 2017). Further, the research shows that chronic absenteeism is persistent; in other words, schools that experience chronic absenteeism tended to show similarly high rates of such year after year. The District, too, has been battling these same issues for several years.
By: Maria Salciccioli, Senior Policy Analyst
Earlier this month, I attended the Aspen Institute’s event: The Practice Base for How We Learn: Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. The event was cohosted with the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. I was interested to learn what they’d be saying, in part because the State Board of Education’s ESSA Task Force is examining all aspects of how to provide a well-rounded education, and focusing on students’ emotional as well as academic development is increasingly gaining respect as a key strategy.
By: Maria Salciccioli, Senior Policy Analyst
At the Board’s January Public Meeting, we heard testimony on the ESSA school report cards that the SBOE is working with the Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) to produce. Two school leaders testified that the format of the report cards disadvantages schools that only serve early childhood students, because it only includes growth from 3rd grade onward. Pre-K through 3rd grade schools make tremendous gains with their students during those years, which won’t be evident to families who look at school report cards in their current form.
With this information, the Board aims to partner with OSSE to think about nuanced ways to present early childhood schools’ student outcomes. Board member Dr. Lannette Woodruff (Ward 4) wanted to understand what an early childhood campus really looks like, so I joined her for a tour of Eagle Academy PCS. Eagle’s CEO, Dr. Joe Smith, was one of the school leaders who testified at our meeting. We visited the Congress Heights location, since it’s the larger of the two.
By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist
The DC State Board of Education (SBOE) will hold its monthly public meeting on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. in the Old Council Chambers at 441 4th Street NW. The SBOE wants to hear the community’s thoughts on the proposed content of a new school report card that will provide the same information about every public and public charter school in the District. The school report card will contain two kinds of data: information that is required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and information that is important to the residents of the District. The public may sign up online to testify at this month’s SBOE Public meeting about the school report card. The deadline to sign up is 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 16, 2017. Residents who testify will have three minutes to provide their input and recommendations to the SBOE.
At Tuesday night’s SBOE ESSA Task Force meeting, representatives from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) outlined updates to their content and format proposal for the new report card. Task force members reviewed the proposal and provided comments and recommendations. This proposal was based on feedback from State Board members, community members, and the members of the ESSA Task Force. Over the next few weeks, OSSE will work with the SBOE to finalize the content proposal with the intention that the State Board will vote on the proposal at its February public meeting.
By Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist
The SBOE Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Task Force met on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 to discuss the new version of DC’s school report card. Maya Martin, Executive Director of Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE), Josh Boots, Executive Director of EmpowerK12, and representatives from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) provided task force members with an overview of recently held parent feedback sessions on the DC school report card.
PAVE held meetings with each of its Parent Leaders in Education (PLE) Boards in Wards 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Parents were asked to rank the top five things they looked for when they chose a school for their student. Parents then examined PCSB’s Performance Management Framework Reports, DC Public School’s Scorecards, and the LEARN DC profiles, and discussed the pros and cons of each. In addition, PAVE canvassed and collected surveys from 51 total parents. 85% of parents who attended sessions said “Student Performance by Subgroup” and “Teacher Quality” were the most important factors needed on a DC school report card. Re-enrollment, School Funding, and Attendance were also rated highly. Parents want one source where they can get data, and one that helps them interpret quality more easily.
The ESSA Task Force held its first meeting on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, at 6 p.m. at 441 4th St. NW in Room 1114. The 29 members of the task force began their important work of devising education policy recommendations related to the District’s implementation of ESSA. Representatives from DC Public Schools, the Public Charter School Board, LearnDC, My School DC, and GreatSchools made detailed presentations showcasing the existing school report cards here in the District.
Task force members relished the opportunity to get to know each other and offer their viewpoints on must haves and a wish list for a future template of a school report card. Under the leadership of Ward 4 representative Dr. Lannette Woodruff, the task force will advise the SBOE over the next two years on implementation of DC’s ESSA plan. Task force members include parents, community leaders, education agency leaders, students, teachers, school leaders, and nonprofit personnel who work in relevant fields. The task force will divide into four subcommittees that will address school report cards, access and opportunity measures, high school growth measures, and school climate pilots. The next task force meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 5, 2017. For updated information regarding ESSA, please visit sboe.dc.gov/essa.