By: Ashley MacLeay, At-Large Representative, and Alexander Jue, Policy Analyst
Earlier this month, we had the chance to visit Aiton Elementary School in Ward 7 and Murch Elementary School in Ward 3 for their Strawberries & Salad Greens Day festivities. Since 2011, the Health & Wellness Division at OSSE has sponsored this city-wide event as a way to showcase locally grown produce in school meals.
Aiton Elementary School partnered with DC Central Kitchen to teach students about different fruits and vegetables that could be grown in the District. Students were able to touch and taste local fruits and vegetables like cherry tomatoes and cucumbers grown from a truck garden. In addition, the students learned proper knife techniques and cut strawberries, kale, and carrots. They mixed the ingredients together with a strawberry vinaigrette dressing to create a fresh summer strawberry salad that everyone enjoyed.
By: Sara Gopalkrishna, Policy Fellow
Thanks for the ride, SBOE! As a DCPS parent and a doctoral student of education policy, these last five months as a Policy Fellow at the DC State Board of Education have been illuminating and fun. I have come to understand the structure of educational governance in the District and learned a lot about the people who operate within it. (One day, I’ll diagram it for you!) I was given to the time and task of listening to and watching City Council testimony on education issues and offices, and, of course, SBOE meetings. I had the opportunity to participate in First Friday tours of DC charter schools and peek into some high schools on an SBOE selfie tour to recruit high school students to serve as Student Representatives and members of the State Board Student Advisory Committee. The staff provided opportunities for me to explore DC student data, write memos, contribute blog posts, and ask a lot of questions!
By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist
Last week, Cardozo High School Assistant Principal Matthew Kennedy and his leadership team welcomed State Board members Ruth Wattenberg (Ward 3 / President), Ashley MacLeay (At-Large), Emily Gasoi (Ward 1), and some of my SBOE staff colleagues for a school tour and lively education policy discussion at one of Ward 1’s education campuses. Cardozo Education Campus is essentially three schools in one, with a middle school, mainstream/traditional high school, and an International Academy for English language learners in one building. The historic “Castle on the Hill” campus serves students from grades 6–12 at this neighborhood DCPS school in the District’s northwest neighborhood of Columbia Heights.
During the first portion of the visit, we sat down with Assistant Principal Matthew Kennedy to learn more about the unique programs offered at this combined middle/high school. In addition, State Board members engaged in a discussion with school leaders and teachers on different ways to measure academic growth during high school. Academic growth, the progress a student makes over a particular time period, is one of the indicators used by the District in its STAR Framework and in its school report card. This visit was timely as the State Board looks forward to a proposal from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) related to a high school growth measure next month.
By: Alexander Jue, Policy Analyst
Ensuring research and policy concepts are accessible to all stakeholders in our communities is important. Think tanks and policy-based organizations release reports and their findings on a regular basis, but some times the information contained within these reports can be difficult to navigate and understand to a more novice reader or layperson.
Each month, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) will feature and summarize a collection of reports highlighting trends and issues in education policy. SBOE will discuss the key findings, as well as explain the implication of the reports to the State Board’s work and priorities. This month we feature two reports: one from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) on the importance of teacher diversity and a second from the National School Climate Center (NSCC) on creating school communities.
“A Vision and Guidance for a Diverse and Learner-Ready Teacher Workforce” – Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), January 10, 2019
Summary: Students benefit when their teachers come from varying backgrounds—racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic. Today, nearly 50 percent of American public school students identify as people of color, compared to only 20 percent of their teachers. CCSSO highlights research that demonstrates “students exposure to people who are different from themselves, and the ideas and challenges that such exposure brings, leads to improved cognitive skills, including critical thinking and problem solving.” The CCSSO report discusses the need for “deliberate attention to build current as well as future teachers’ capacity to enact pedagogies and practices that recognize and embrace students’ cultures as assets in the classroom.” CCSSO suggests that all teachers be “learner-ready”—meaning teachers have developed the deep knowledge of their content and how to teach it, understand differing needs amongst students, and demonstrate leadership and shared responsibility. The CCSSO report casts a vision for what education systems look like when there is a diverse and learner-ready workforce, and outlines a series of preservice and in-service policy recommendations for achieving their vision.
By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist
During a press conference held last evening at the newly-modernized Bancroft Elementary School, Mayor Muriel Bowser, with Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, Interim Deputy Mayor Ahnna Smith, State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang, Interim DC Public Schools Chancellor Dr. Amanda Alexander, DC Public Charter School Board Executive Director Scott Pearson, and Principal Arthur Mola from Bancroft Elementary School publicly announced results for the 2017-18 statewide Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams. Overall, the percentage of District students who are on track for the next grade level and to leave high school prepared for college and career increased since last year. The full results can be found here.
The SBOE is encouraged by the increases in scores for almost all students, but remains concerned about the enormous gaps that remain between students of color and white students. The District’s scores for high school math and students with disabilities are also of particular concern. Statewide, the proportion of students meeting or exceeding expectations on the PARCC has increased gradually in each of the last two years, and the District is up 5.5 points in English language arts/literacy (ELA) and 4.8 points in math over 2014-15 levels.
Credit recovery is supposed to provide students that have already failed a course the opportunity to make up or recover the credit. The regulations submitted to the State Board by OSSE were an attempt to provide statewide guardrails on a chaotic mix of programs, varied interpretations of policies or the complete absence of policies. The State Board unanimously rejected the proposal because, in our view, they would not provide any change in the practice of credit recovery in the District of Columbia.
The State Board believes we need to begin a long overdue conversation about how state agencies are better able to support excellent classrooms. It is a conversation that our caregivers, teachers, and students have been asking for: how do we harness the power of government and public education to ensure equity of opportunity for all students.
Credit recovery is a last resort. Every time a teacher acts with a student that is struggling, we need to be there to provide support. Every time a student falls behind, we need to be there to catch them up. A student that is struggling in a class shouldn’t have to fail the course before the teacher and the school can help. That is a failure of the system, not the student.
On the fundamentals, we agree with OSSE that credit recovery needs clear guidelines and rules, but not without a larger discussion about how the education system is serving individual students. Working together, as a community, we must ensure that the state agencies are supporting caregivers, teachers, and school leaders to provide students with the help they need to prosper by reducing barriers and ensuring equity of access and opportunity. We must hold our school leaders and agencies, not just teachers responsible for student outcomes, and empower our students and their caregivers to be decision-makers in education.
The State Board rejected the proposed regulations to put students, not the system, first.
By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist
In June, SBOE members criss-crossed the District visiting DC public schools and public charter schools, attending high school graduation events, and participating in important community gatherings.
Karen (Ward 7 / President), Ashley (At-Large), and Joe (Ward 6) attended Mayor Bowser’s press conference announcing the new search committee for DC Public Schools Chancellor
Karen (Ward 7 / President) was the keynote speaker at Total Sunshine’s annual school grade awards ceremony honoring D.C.’s public and charter high school valedictorians and salutatorians
Jack (Ward 2 / Vice President) honored award recipients at the Critics and Awards Program for High School Students Awards (Cappies) ceremony
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 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.