Testimony of Caryn Ernst
State Board of Education
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
School Accountability Measures
March 15, 2017
Dear SBOE Members,
Thank you for developing ten outstanding recommendations for changes to the Every Students Succeeds Act draft accountability plan. Your ten recommended changes are an excellent reflection of the diverse and extensive feedback you gathered through community meetings, conversations and testimony.
More importantly, your recommendations provide thoughtful guidance for OSSE on how to construct an accountability system that corrects the deep flaws of NCLB and meets the intentions of the ESSA requirements to broaden accountability by adding to test scores and graduation rates indicators of “school quality or student success.” As the U.S. Department of Education noted – “[this requirement] presents an opportunity for States to develop robust, multi-measure accountability systems that help districts and schools ensure each student has access to a well-rounded education [.]”
As your recommendations make clear, OSSE’s current proposal relies on measures developed under NCLB and continues the many flaws of NCLB that have resulted in our schools becoming increasingly segregated with a persistent achievement gap.
IF OSSE incorporates your recommendations, the District will have an opportunity to reverse those damaging trends. However, during the public meetings OSSE seemed disinclined to commit the time and effort required to adapt its approach to create a new robust, multi-measure accountability system that ensures each student has access to a well-rounded education.
I urge you to reject any proposal from OSSE that does not incorporate all ten of your thoughtful and strategic recommendations.
As you know well, OSSE does not need to submit this proposal in April and has the time to incorporate all of your changes before the September deadline. There is no downside to you rejecting an incomplete proposal in March, but significant downsides to you capitulating to OSSE’s narrow and simplistic measures of school quality.
I applaud your willingness to gather robust feedback from your constituents and your ability to translate that feedback into a comprehensive and strategic approach to measuring school accountability. But all of that effort will have been wasted if you accept a plan from OSSE that doesn’t reflect the results of the hard work and commitment that you and your constituents have shown to getting this right.
Your guidance to the OSSE plan has been one of the most important roles that you serve as an elected school board and your vote on OSSE’s plan will be the most important action you take, as the school accountability system impacts every aspect of the education of every child in the District.
As your constituents, we urge you to do the right thing by our schools and our children by voting NO to an OSSE accountability proposal that does not incorporate all ten of your excellent recommendations.
I offer my most sincere appreciation for your dedication and hard work.
DCPS parent, Ward 6 resident