Open Data Day and DC Education – Open Letter to Mayor Gray‏ by Sandra Moscoso

by Sandra Moscoso

———————————————

Dear Mayor Gray –

I’m reaching out on behalf of all Washington DC families, who love living in this city and are committed to making the public education system(s) work for our children and for our communities.

Recognizing that while the DCPS and Charter school systems offer a variety of options around public education, as a city, DC has not quite managed to gain the confidence of residents nor has it been able to portray the options as good ones. As a parent navigating the public education landscape, I find it difficult to separate what the schools (and systems) want me to see from feedback I receive through my own networks. Factor in our own fears and biases, and it becomes even more difficult to see the options clearly.

While we should all be educated consumers of education, I cannot imagine that you intend for every family to have to go through extensive research each time our children hit a transition point in their academic careers (at PS/K, at Elementary, at Middle School, at High School)? Yet, as things stand, for many families, to find the right school requires research and winning the lottery. This creates a situation that further disenfranchises families who cannot afford this investment of time or who do not have access to networks that would enable them to pursue the best options for their children.

The choices exist and given success in many pockets, how to make this process more manageable? I believe this answers comes from you and commitments you have made toward transparency and your support of technology and innovation.

I am writing to challenge you to join a community of civic activists, by asking the Office of the School Superintendent of Education (OSSE) open up education data this week. Why this week? On Saturday and Sunday, DC will participate in International Open Data Day, by holding a 1 (correction) day hackathon at the World Bank. Over 260 civic hackers (technologists and activists) have signed up to volunteer their time and talents for social good.

Among the projects, there will be a local education theme. Several DC parents will attend, to share ideas on how they think education-related problems can be solved through technology. There will be experts in the problem, there will be experts in technology solutions, what we’re missing is the data.
Mayor Gray, you have an incredible opportunity to connect your pledge of transparency in a way that can help leverage the talents of the tech community.  To collaborate with average people committed to working with DC government in an effort to make our city (and it’s services) great

Recognizing that pulling data could take time, I am asking that OSSE focus on data that has been made public via recent reports or online databases. The difference between public and open is that when the data is open, it is in it’s raw format and reusable (this means no PDFs or PPT slides – excel spreadsheets at a minimum).

Below are datasets that should be easily available given the above conditions, and that do not in any way put student confidentiality at risk.

  1. Raw data from OSSE’s statewide student mobility study – broken down to the school and grade levels (http://osse.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/osse/release_content/attachments/DC%20Student%20Mobility%20Study%20%28Feb%202013%29.pdf )
  2. DC CAS School by School Results – this is great (in xlsx), but can it be broken down to grade level?http://osse.dc.gov/release/mayor-vincent-c-gray-announces-2012-dc-cas-results
  3. ALL DCPS and CHARTER Lottery Results for the past 5 (or more) years, including waitlist numbers at SCHOOL and GRADE levels.
    • Recognizing DCPS lottery became centralized in 2008? then as long as it is available. Recognizing that all waitlists are managed at the school level, then I realize we’re not likely to get how far down waitlist schools got each year.
  4. All DCPS and Charter location data: Files that were used to create the following: http://www.dcpubliccharter.com/PerformanceTier.aspx and http://profiles.dcps.dc.gov/
  5. All DCPS and Charter capacity and enrollment at SCHOOL and GRADE levels .
  6. All DCPS and Charter Tier level data
  7. All DCPS and Charter Title I schools
  8. All DCPS and Charter school student demographics; race, special ed for past 5 years.
  9. For all DCPS and Charter schools, whether they have a music teacher, art teacher and librarian, and if so, whether full or part-time and credentials.
  10. All DCPS and Charter teacher retention rates at the school and grade levels.
  11. All DCPS and Charter special programming: (Montessori, Reggio, STEM focus, Global Studies, IB, etc)
  12. A dataset of all children (identified as Student00000X or whatever makes sense) who have been enrolled in a charter or DCPS for the past 5 years (at least). Am guessing children can be cross-referenced by their name, address and age in order to follow them between DCPS/Charters. For each record,
    • Student ID (see made up suggestion)
    • School Year
    • Neighborhood the student lives in (example: Adams Morgan, Capitol Hill, Hillcrest)
    • School the student is enrolled in
    • Grade the student is enrolled in

Getting all of the above datasets for this weekend would be optimal, but certainly some will be easier to get than others in a short timeline.

For data that cannot be made available by this weekend, it would still be great to have them, as there is a team committed to working on this on the longer term via http://codefordc.org/ (the DC chapter of Code for America).

Thank you in advance for your support of DC families and civic activists. I hope you join us over the weekend to see the amazing work that can come when average people commit to supporting their community (regardless of whether that community is a local or global one).

Respectfully,

Sandra Moscoso

Proud DCPS parent, average person
(sandramoscosomills@gmail.com)

To: vincent.gray@dc.gov

cc: kaya.henderson@dc.gov, jennifer.leonard@dc.gov, pmendelson@dccouncil.us, dcatania@dccouncil.us,twells@dccouncil.us, jevans@dccouncil.us, yalexander@dccouncil.us, mbarry@dccouncil.us,mbowser@dccouncil.us, jgraham@dccouncil.us, kmcduffie@dccouncil.us, vorange@dccouncil.us,dgrosso@dccouncil.us, mcheh@dccouncil.us, abonds@dccouncil.us, osse.superintendent@dc.gov,tauberer@govtrack.us

3 thoughts on “Open Data Day and DC Education – Open Letter to Mayor Gray‏ by Sandra Moscoso

  1. CSondreal says:

    I think this is an awesome idea/request, especially since parental selections — as reflected in waitlist and mobility data — hasn’t been factored quantitatively before to the best of my knowledge. Go geeks!

  2. Jason Townsend says:

    This is a great letter. Thank you Sandra for taking the time to make this points that so many of us parents agree with. My 3 girls are in the DCPS system. We look forward to continue supporting DCPS’s and the Mayor’s efforts to make it a system open for everyone. That said, there are some things that need to change. There’s plenty of room for improvement. Your suggestions are a step in the right direction.

  3. MLD says:

    Good ideas, possibly a couple of these items could be put together in a couple days. Some of this information (like locations) is available from data.dc.gov, for example http://data.dc.gov/Metadata.aspx?id=45 Putting more information publicly on that site would be great.

    #12 has major privacy implications so I can’t really see that being made available.

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