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Andrea Tucker – ESSA – State Board of Education – March 15, 2017

Testimony of Andrea Tucker
Parent and Ward 8 Resident

DC State Board of Education Public Board Meeting  on Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) School Accountability Measures, March 15, 2017 

Good Evening Members of the State Board of Education and thank you for allowing me to testify   here today. My name is Andrea Tucker. I am a native of DC, ward 8 resident, and a parent of three at JO Wilson Elementary School, a Title I school in ward 6. I am also the PTA president, a member of the LSAT, and a proud graduate of JO Wilson Elementary School!

I want to first thank you for your 10 recommendations on how to improve the accountability plan. Your recommendations reflected many of my concerns and those of other parents I heard at a community meeting last month where OSSE presented on the plan and took questions.

Prior to the meeting, I thought that the plan would represent a new way of thinking in DC. I thought it would be an opportunity to look at our unique city and create an accountability plan that would work for our schools and for our children. That was not what I heard there. Instead, I heard about an accountability plan that rates schools almost entirely on reading and math scores.

Making sure students have access to arts, science, social studies and technology is important to having a well-rounded education. It is something we should encourage in every school across the city. So I was glad to see your recommendations on the need to evaluate our schools based on a well-rounded education and not focus so narrowly.

We know that not all schools are equal in their course offerings now and this plan should be one way to push the system toward equity, not create wider divisions in quality. If all schools are judged by not just reading and math but other subjects, wouldn’t that be one way to encourage all schools to offer them?

I hope that you will make these changes toward a well-rounded education view now and not wait and revisit the need for it later. My concern is that once the plan goes through the approval process, we may not have a chance to revisit it. I have not seen the final plan to know whether it has been and how much has been included there.

As a proud DCPS alumni and a current parent with children in DCPS, I have been a witness to what makes a great school. While test scores are one factor I use to judge a school, it is definitely not the only one. I also care a lot about the culture and climate of the school. It is important that kids are safe and that the environment in the school is conducive to learning. I was glad to see your recommendations address culture and climate in understanding the quality of a school. I am hopeful it is now a part of the plan and not one to put off for the future. I also care about holding teachers and staff accountable for children’s learning or lack there of. No child should go to middle or high school reading on a second grade level.

I do not believe that the State Board of Education should approve this plan without having OSSE make these changes first and allowing the public to have one more opportunity to review it. We have done our part by attending the meetings or reading the plan. OSSE has not done it’s part in sharing back changes in a timely manner so I have not had time to understand any of the changes.

I will close by saying that the community meeting I attended in Ward 6 was a large gathering of parents who were diverse in every way, but we were united in our questions, concerns, and goals. That was very reassuring to know that we are all pushing in a similar direction for our children and I hope city leaders are listening and will make the necessary changes.

Thank you for your time and for inviting public testimony on this issue tonight.

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