My Final Thoughts – Abby Ragan

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.

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Latinos in College: Closing the Graduation Gap

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

On April 17th, the Gallup Organization hosted a series of panels and speakers to discuss the closure of the Latino higher achievement gap in the United States. Before the presentation began, each audience member was presented with handouts which highlighted the facts and figures regarding the Latino population, and education outcomes in the United States:

  • 25% of the K-12 population is Latino, with the Latino population as a share of the overall population is supposed to continually increase year-over-year
  • 22% of Latino students earn an associate degree or higher, compared to 39% of all adults
  • 41% of Latinos graduate college in 150% of the time (4 years for a 2 year-program, 6 years for 4-year program), compared to 52% for whites

This framed the context of the discussions throughout the morning, which primarily focused on policy proposals by Congressmen to tackle the gaps and challenges being faced by Latino students.

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SBOE Kicks Off the First Meeting of the #DCGradReqs Task Force!

By: Amber Faith, Policy Fellow

SBOE will hold its first High School Graduation Task Force meeting on July 26th and invites the public to observe. The task force is led by State Board members  Laura Wilson Phelan (Ward 1) and Markus Batchelor (Ward 8). Together they lead a task force composed of parents, teachers, students, business leaders, school administrators, and education advocates from across the District!

All task force meetings are open to the public. However, individuals and representatives of organizations are not permitted to speak or participate during task force sessions. In an effort to get more of the public involved with the work of the task force, the SBOE has created a forum on Facebook for the public to join. On the task force Facebook page, the public can post questions and comments on the task force’s work and receive updates on task force meetings and progress. To join the page, click on the link below!

SBOE Graduation Requirements Task Force Facebook Page

We also invite your ongoing participation and input in the following ways:

  • Attend task force meetings and/or view them online
  • Participate in focus groups the task force will convene over the next six months
  • Submit written testimony or information for consideration by the task force by emailing sboe@dc.gov or by filling out this online form
  • Share your thoughts with your elected State Board member or the task force co-chairs, Laura Wilson Phelan (Ward 1) and Markus Batchelor (Ward 8)

New Members of SBOE HS Graduation Requirements Task Force

Today, we announced the new members of our High School Graduation Requirements Task Force! This initiative, announced earlier this month, marks an historic city-wide effort to review, analyze and, as necessary, make thoughtful, implementable recommendations to adjust DC’s high school graduation requirements for all DCPS and public charter school students. The Task Force, under the leadership of Ward 1 representative Laura Wilson Phelan and Ward 8 representative Markus Batchelor, will consist of 26 members who will provide unique insights relevant to high school graduation.

The application period closed at 12:00 noon on Friday, June 23, 2017. Each application was subsequently anonymized to ensure objectivity in selection. The SBOE Educational Excellence & Equity Committee reviewed each application and selected the following members to serve on the task force. To view a list of everyone who applied to the task force, click here.

The SBOE is excited to work with such diverse voices, including representatives from our education governing bodies, on such an important issue. Below are the selected members of the Task Force.

Laura Wilson Phelan (co-chair)
• Ward 1 Representative, SBOE
• Chair, SBOE Educational Excellence & Equity Committee

Markus Batchelor (co-chair)
• Ward 8 Representative, SBOE
• Chair, SBOE Public Engagement & Outreach Committee

Celine Fejeran
• Deputy Director, Raise DC
• Public Charter School Parent
• Ward 5 Resident

Cara Fuller
• Principal, DCPS Ballou Stay High School
• 5 years experience as Principal
• Ward 8 Resident

Carol Randolph
• Chief Operating Officer, DC Students Construction Trades Foundation (Ward 7)
• 16 years working to expand trade skills in District schools
• Ward 4 Resident

Cathy Reilly
• Executive Director, Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators (S.H.A.P.P.E.)
• Ward 4 Education Alliance, C4DC
• Ward 4 Resident

Cosby Hunt
• Senior Officer of Teaching & Learning, Center for Inspired Teaching
• Public Charter School Parent
• Ward 5 Resident

David Tansey
• Math Teacher, DCPS McKinley Tech High School (Ward 5)
• Math for America, Washington Teacher’s Union (WTU)
• Ward 5 Resident

Dwan Jordon
• Senior Advisor for High School Research, Friendship PCS
• Former Principal, Sousa MS (DCPS); Friendship Collegiate PCHS (Ward 7)
• Ward 4 Resident

Jahari Shelton
• Student, Sidwell Friends School
• Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development
• Ward 7 Resident

Jimell Sanders
• Director of Engagement, DC Language Immersion Project
• DCPS Parent
• Ward 7 Resident

Julie Camerata
• Executive Director, DC Special Education Cooperative
• Public Charter Middle School Parent
• Ward 1 Resident

Karla Reid-Witt
• Family Dynamics Specialist, JumpStart
• DCPS High School Parent
• Ward 7 Resident

Kimberly Martin
• Principal, DCPS Wilson High School
• 15 years experience as High School Principal
• DCPS Parent
• Ward 3 Resident

Larry R. Greenhill, Sr.
• Vice President, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 26
• 20 years experience with District apprenticeship programs
• Ward 8 Resident

Latisha Chisholm
• Special Education Coordinator, Anacostia High School
• Former English, Science, and Special Education Teacher
• Ward 8 Resident

Sandra Jowers-Barber, Ph.D.
• Director, Division of Humanities, University of the District of Columbia Community College (UDC-CC)
• Former History Professor
• Ward 4 Resident

Sanjay K. Mitchell
• Director of College & Alumni Programs, Thurgood Marshall Academy PCHS
• Former Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions
• Ward 7 Resident

Senovia L. Hurtado
• Bilingual School Counselor, School Without Walls
• DCPS High School Parent
• Ward 5 Resident

Shenita Ray
• Director of Online Operations, Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies
• 10 years experience in higher education
• Ward 5 Resident

Tom Brown
• Executive Director, Training Grounds, Inc.
• DCPS / Public Charter School Parent
• Ward 7 Resident

Erin Bibo
• Deputy Chief, College & Career Programs, DC Public Schools (DCPS)

Jane Spence
• Deputy Chief, Secondary Schools (MS/HS), DC Public Schools (DCPS)

Justin Tooley
• Special Assistant for Legislation & Policy, Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)

Naomi DeVeaux
• Deputy Director, DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB)

SBOE Student Representative
• Member of 2017-2018 Student Advisory Committee, SBOE (TBA)

This task force will examine the following questions and recommend changes to the graduation requirements based on its findings:

  1. What do we as a city want our high school diploma to mean?
  2. How should we measure whether a student has achieved the standards of a diploma?
  3. What changes to DC’s graduation requirements, if any, should be made to ensure our diploma reflects achievement of these standards?

Task force meetings will meet two times per month, starting in July and concluding in Spring 2018. District residents will have many opportunities to stay involved and provide input throughout this process. The SBOE will convene parent focus groups and student focus groups to both generate ideas for the task force to consider and to brainstorm ideas during the course of discussions. The focus groups will be representative of the demographics of students in the city, where half of all DCPS and public charter students reside in Wards 7 and 8. For the latest updates on the work of the task force, please visit sboe.dc.gov/gradreqs.

2nd SAC Report: Graduation Requirements and Hall Sweeps Top Student Concerns

At June’s public meeting, State Board members voted on the final version of the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) report presented by SBOE Student Representative Alex Dorosin of Wilson High School. Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 9.56.59 AMThis report is the second annual report presented by the Student Advisory Committee (SAC). The SAC met four times over the course of the 2016­-2017 school year and selected seven key topics that the SAC feels can be changed or improved in the DC education system.The proposals submitted by the SAC focused on graduation requirements, security, access to humanities and civic engagement courses, hall sweeps, food and nutrition, grading systems, and student socialization.

Student representatives have been pivotal to the success of the work of the SBOE. Our student representatives and SAC members offer a unique perspective on how policies actually impact the District’s students. SAC Mtg May'17The Student Advisory Committee serves as the voice of students in the State Board’s work. They are consulted on all issues of policy before the State Board. Student Representatives serve as co-chairs of the Student Advisory Committee.  The Committee is composed of a minimum of 15 high school students, one from each of the 10 largest (by student population) high schools in the District and 5 additional members from other high schools.  Read the report here.

Chavez Students Present Policy Solutions at Palooza Fair

By: Amber Faith, Policy Fellow

On Friday June 16th, 9th and 10th grade students attending Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy participated in the school’s annual Palooza Fair to present the results of their Community Action Projects (CAP). As a part of the CAP assignment, Chavez students worked in groups to research a policy issue, identify a problem in their community and create a policy to solve the problem. While working on their projects, students contacted and worked with experts on their topic, created and distributed surveys to community members, and completed 30 hours of community service relating to their topics.

The Palooza Fair was the culmination of the students’ work on these projects. At the fair, students gave presentations on current problems relating to human trafficking, immigration, animal rights and the U.S. military. The students succinctly and clearly presented data and information to show evidence of a problem, identified current policies meant to address the problem, and recommended changes to policy and strategies for their community to address these issues.

The work completed by Chavez 9th and 10th grade students is a requirement by Chavez schools to prepare students for the work the thesis work they will complete as Seniors. Seniors at Chavez are required to complete much more in depth research into policy solutions for current issues and present their research at Chavez’s Annual Symposium. The work completed by Chavez students falls in line with the school’s mission, part of which is to empower students to use public policy to make positive changes in their communities. To learn more about the program at Chavez Schools, visit Chavez Schools.