Testimony of Suzanne Wells – Committee on Education DCPS Strategic Plan 2017-2022 Hearing – September 21, 2017

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today at the Roundtable on the District of Columbia Public Schools’ Strategic Plan for 2017 – 2022. I am going to focus my remarks on Goal 6, and the goal of having 54,000 students attend DCPS schools by 2022.

Every year since 1996, after the passage of the School Reform Act that established the independent Public Charter School Board (PCSB), the percent of students attending our municipally-run DC public schools has fallen when compared with the total number of students attending both DCPS and charter schools.  In SY 2016/17, 56% or approximately 47,000 of the students between the ages of 3 through 17 attending public schools attended DC public schools and 44% attended charter schools.

When repeated requests to DCPS to understand how they arrived at the 54,000 number went unanswered, I turned to the 21st Century School Fund to get data on the projected growth in the number of students expected to attend public schools in DC in 2022.  It is estimated there will be 96,000 students between the ages of 3 to 17 attending the public schools in DC in 2022.  The goal of 54,000 students attending DCPS schools in 2022 means that approximately 56% of the total number of students attending public schools will be enrolled in DCPS.  The same percentage that we have today.

On one hand, you could look at the goal of 54,000 students enrolling in DCPS in 2022 being a good thing in terms of stopping the decline that has occurred over the last twenty years.  But the number 54,000 raises some questions.

  • First, who decided that the split between DCPS and the charter sector should be 56% vs. 44%? Were these decisions made by our elected and appointed education officials with no public input?
  • Second, every other goal in the DCPS strategic plan seeks to show growth and improvement. For example, DCPS wants to double the percent of students who are college and career ready and see 100% of the K – 2 students reading on or above grade level.  Why does the strategic plan want to tread water when it comes to enrollment, and just keep the same percentage of students attending DCPS?
  • Third, why have public comments encouraging DCPS to win back families who previously left to attend charter schools been ignored? In January 2017, a letter was sent to the Mayor that was signed by all eight ward education councils that said “growing the enrollment of the students in the DCPS’s neighborhood public schools is the most important performance evaluation criterion to establish for … [the] chancellor.”  The letter suggested the enrollment should grow to 65,000 students by 2020 or 9000 more students than is in the strategic plan.

The charter school sector has a much more robust plan for growth.  At the June 19, 2017, PCSB meeting the board voted to approve enrollment increases to allow four existing charter schools to open up five new campuses including three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school.  When you read the enrollment ceiling increase requests written by the charter schools, you understand that they all have strategic plans that seek to grow their enrollment.  If DCPS wants to stay competitive in this school choice environment our city has embraced, it should have a strategic plan that seeks to win back families to our municipally-run schools rather than one that seeks to tread water.  A robust growth goal will demonstrate DCPS’ success in lifting up low-performing schools and meeting the educational needs of all students, and that our city values its publicly managed, by-right neighborhood school system.







CHPSPO Meeting Notes – September 19, 2017

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization
Watkins Elementary School
September 19, 2017
6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.


Implementation of the OSSE State Plan, Shana Young, Chief of Staff, OSSE

The DC state plan (also called the ESSA plan) details the accountability and support system for all public schools in DC. As a part of the state plan, states are required to create a unified report card that will help families understand how schools are performing.

The goal of the meeting was for OSSE to share a vision for the statewide report card to communicate school performance and progress to the public. State report cards will include federally required information as well as other information open for public input. Shana Young shared that OSSE plans to work with PCSB and DCPS to share a common set of information across all, but at this time, there is not a commitment on the part of those groups to consolidate their report cards into one statewide report card.

During Q&A, members voiced concern that report cards might be used to increase student mobility as parents move students to get to higher-performing schools or certain feeder patterns, creating more churn and instability in the overall system.

Members also raised other goals for the report cards beyond using them to make comparisons across schools.

  • Report cards can be created as a tool that allows parents to engage with principals and LSATs around school improvement efforts.
  • Reports cards can be civil rights tools to support advocacy efforts, thus the need for greater data transparency, clarity, and context in the final rollout.

Members stressed the need to get substantive information from the report cards, displayed in a way that allows for easy understanding and comparison. Parents want more transparency and more information, but also need context to support the interpretation of data.

Discussed that there will likely be some data points that OSSE cannot access, especially from the charter school sector, which may be omitted from report cards or displayed as null value. Members suggested that when districts opt out of sharing any given data point, the report cards should be transparent about them opting out.  Importance of displaying location and transportation was raised. Also that teachers need to be engaged in the creation of report cards as well as the teacher union leadership.

Next steps from OSSE

  • OSSE will create a facilitation guide/toolkit to help parents and community members conduct focus groups and collect feedback. It is also the goal for LSATs, PTAs and schools to facilitate discussions and share back to OSSE. CHPSPO will have such a focus group at the October 23 meeting.
  • OSSE will send out a survey to collect information directly from the public on content for report cards through January 2018. All information will be categorized and shared back with the public in a timely manner. This includes comments from the general public as well as advocacy groups that meet with OSSE.
  • In the Spring, OSSE will report back about content/data points to be included and begin to engage the public on design and display of data.
  • Final report cards will be launched in December 2018. However, data will still be shared as it becomes available before then (ie PARCC scores).

The DC State Board of Education has an ESSA Task Force. Learn more here:

Walk-to-School Day

Walk-to-School Day is on October 4th. All will meet at Lincoln Park at 7:30am and walk to school by 8:10am. Expecting several city officials to be in attendance, including Chancellor Wilson, Mayor Bowser, CM Allen, Tommy Wells, CM Silverman, among others. Also expecting US Rep. John Lewis to attend. The Capitol Hill Community Foundation (CHCF) provided a mini-grant to support the event. Will work with public speakers at the event to promote safe streets as a theme.

Education Public Roundtable, Committee on Education, DCPS 2017 – 2022 Strategic Plan

Martin Welles will be testifying about inaccuracy of the underlying data used to support the strategic plan and his concerns that the data skews goal-setting. Danica Petroshius will testify about the need to include facilities and heath/safety measures of our schools in the plan. She will also testify about the need for more transparency in the goals around college and career readiness indicators. State Board Rep Joe Weedon suggested there is a need for transparency and clarity about the actual growth of subgroups given community-eligibility may mask underlying issues. For instance, the subgroup for economically disadvantaged students includes high-income students at some schools, particularly in Ward 6, which makes it difficult to see the real performance of the subgroup. Suzanne Wells will testify on the lack of an aggressive goal to increase DCPS enrollment.

Vote for CHPSPO Officers

Elected to the CHPSPO Board: Suzanne Wells to serve another term as president; Danica Petroshius and Suzy Glucksman as co-vice presidents and Sandra Moscoso-Mills and Iris Bond Gill as co-secretaries.

Next CHPSPO Meeting

October 23, 2017 (NOTE: This meeting will be a focus group on school report cards under the OSSE State Plan. This meeting will be the 4th Monday in October)

Upcoming Events

Cross Sector Collaboration Task Force: Tuesday, September 26, 2017, Education Counsel (101 Constitution Ave, NW, Suite 900)

Walk-to-School Day: Wednesday, October 4, Lincoln Park

Education Public Roundtable, Committee on Education, DCPS 2017 – 2022 Strategic Plan: Thursday, September 21, 10 am, Room 412.  To testify sign-up online at or call the Committee on Education at (202) 724-8061 by 5:00pm Tuesday, September 19.

Visit CHPSPO on the web at


Join us for Walk to School Day on October 4, 2017!

Special thanks to the Capitol Hill Community Foundation for supporting this event!


CHPSPO Meets Tuesday, September 19, at Watkins

CHPSPO will meet on Tuesday, September 19, at 6:30 pm at the newly renovated Watkins. Shana Young, the Chief of Staff at OSSE, will join us for a discussion of the implementation of DC’s state Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan.

At the meeting we will also discuss Walk-to-School Day that will be October 4. The Mayor, Chancellor Wilson, Council member Charles Allen, U.S. Representative John Lewis, National Transportation Safety Board Member Bela Dinh-Zarr,and Tommy Wells, Director of the District Department of Energy and the Environment, are scheduled to join us!

We’ll also discuss the recently released DCPS 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, a vision for the historic Miner building, and will elect the CHPSPO Board.

Hope to see you on Tuesday.

Suzanne Wells

091917 CHPSPO Agenda.docx


Nominations Open for CHPSPO Board of Directors

Nominations are now open for the Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization (CHPSPO) Board of Directors. Serving on the CHPSPO Board of Directors is one way you can make meaningful contributions to public education in our community. The following positions are open, along with with a brief description of the responsibilities:

Chair – Prepare for monthly meetings including developing the agenda, inviting speakers and identifying meeting locations. Inform membership about relevant education issues affecting public schools in Ward 6. Testify on an as needed basis to represent the views and opinions of the CHPSPO membership.

Vice-Chair – Assist the Chair in all responsibilities.

Secretary – Maintain the CHPSPO website, including CHPSPO’s Flickr, Twitter and Facebook accounts. Prepare minutes from the monthly meetings.

Treasurer – Maintain CHPSPO’s 501(c)3 status and file appropriate tax documents.

2018 Bike-to-School Chair (May 2018) – Lead a group of parent volunteers to plan the 2018 Bike-to-School Day event.

2018 Walk-to-School Chair (October 2018) – Lead a group of parent volunteers to plan the 2018 Walk-to-School Day event.

Nominations will be accepted until midnight, Sunday, September 10, 2017. Self-nominations are encouraged. Please send your name and the position for which you wish to serve to George Blackmon at gblackmon.

We will vote for the Board of Directors at our September 19 meeting. Please consider running for a position. Thank you.

Suzanne Wells

Bylaws December 2011.docx


Walk to School Day is October 4 – save the date!


How to plan a fantastic party with all your school friends….

Stay tuned…


CHPSPO Meets Tuesday August 15 at NE Library

Dear Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization members,

CHPSPO will meet on Tuesday, August 15, at 6:30 pm at the Northeast Library (330 7th Street, NE) in the conference room on the lower level. We will be joined by Claudia Lujan from DCPS who will be discussing a strategic regional analysis being done by DCPS. Claudia will be seeking input from us on what we believe Ward 6’s biggest planning needs and priorities are.

Please mark your school calendars for Walk-to-School Day which will be Wednesday, October 4. Registration for Walk-to-School Day will open on August 15.

CHPSPO will be electing officers at our September meeting. Please consider running for Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Walk-to-School Coordinator, and Bike-to-School Coordinator.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that there will be a solar eclipse on the first day of school on August 21. Many Ward 6 schools have already received FREE solar eclipse glasses from the National Air and Space Museum so students can safely view the solar eclipse. Supplies of the glasses are limited. You can contact Becca Ljungren at LjungrenR to make a bulk request for the glasses.

Suzanne Wells

081517 CHPSPO Agenda.docx