Dear Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization members,
I hope everyone had a restful spring break. CHPSPO will meet on Tuesday, April 25, at 6:30 pm at Miner Elementary (601 15th St. NE). We will be joined by Denise Fraction and Sherry Holland-Senter with the AARP Foundation Experience Corps who will be discussing their literacy tutoring program from grades K – 3, Ivy Ken who will be updating us on food service issues, and Catharine Bellinger who will share information with us about Democrats for Education Reform (DFER).
Hope to see you on Tuesday.
The Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization will meet on Tuesday, March 21 at Stuart Hobson Middle School (410 D Street, NE) in Room 108. Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen will join us for the meeting. We will also be joined by Joe Weedon, Ward 6 State Board of Education, who will be discussing the OSSE School Accountability/State Plan that is scheduled for a SBOE vote on March 22. We’ll also be discussing potential changes to the school mental health program, the April 11 Community Engagement Session with Chancellor Wilson and Bike-to-School Day.
Hope to see you at the meeting.
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
Testimony of Sandra Moscoso
State Board of Education
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
March 15, 2017
Good evening SBOE members. Please consider this my ‘Just in Time’ testimony, given OSSE’s March 14 response to SBOE.
I am Sandra Moscoso, a parent of students enrolled in BASIS DC Charter School and Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan – two very different schools with two very different approaches to education.
While my children in these very different schools perform similarly on the PARCC, their schools fall into very different “categories” of overall student body performance. Our family values both schools and the opportunities each school have afforded our children, and I can confirm the value we place in the schools is much broader than PARCC results.
With this in mind, I worry about how an accountability structure which focuses too heavily on a narrow measure of PARCC results, could (and does) translate into inequity within my own family. One of my children attends a school with the flexibility to offer art, social studies, and prioritizes foreign language, while my other child’s school moves mountains to do the above, while subject to the mandatory magic bullet of the day, and heavily scrutinized, giving up instruction time to constant testing.
I am hopeful that the approach (while still limited) of giving more weight to indicators outside of PARCC performance when evaluating school success or accountability, will indirectly address some of today’s inequities in DC’s education system. We want all schools to have access to arts, enrichment, science, civic studies. We don’t want lower performing schools, who may be addressing very diverse student needs, to continue to struggle to provide robust learning environments in a frenzy to chase down test scores. Our schools should be able to meet the goal of growth without sacrificing equity. Your recommendations support a step in this direction.
We have this unique opportunity to broaden school accountability beyond the current testing paradigm. Excluding or diminishing academic and non-academic indicators like school climate, social studies, arts, etc., is a huge opportunity missed.
Thank you, SBOE for representing the voice of DC parents in this discussion. I also thank OSSE, who in their March 14 summary of public engagement feedback, acknowledges what we have heard parents say over and over again: we want less weight on standardized tests, growth matters, and school climate is important.
Thank you for the opportunity to share this testimony.
Testimony of Sara Moore Kerai
DC State Board of Education Hearing
March 15, 2017
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Sara Moore Kerai and I am a parent of a pre- K 3 child at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan.
I care deeply about the quality of my children’s education and the need to understand the quality of our schools based on more than just a test score. I was excited and hopeful at the opportunity to create a new accountability system that will value test scores alongside other important ways of demonstrating school quality & environment.
I read the draft plan and attended an OSSE outreach session hosted by the Capitol Hill Public School Parent Organization. I was pleased to hear the deep interest in a new accountability system that looked at the whole child shared by all of the parents who attended.
At the meeting, I was concerned by OSSE’s seeming lack of motivation to make significant changes, and to allow more time to think critically about these issues as a broad community.
Later, I was pleased when the State Board of Education released a list of well thought-out and meaningful recommendations for changes to the draft ESSA plan. The recommended changes are greatly supported by my community, including teachers and parents. The recommendations also demonstrated that members of the State Board actually listened to feedback from the community. My community has hoped that the State Board would not approve an OSSE plan that does not implement those changes in full.
However, only yesterday, OSSE released its response to public and State Board comments.
This left us once again with precious little time to review and understand the response and its impact before today’s hearing. As I understand it, the plan takes some meaningful steps in addressing the State Board’s comments, as well as parent and educator input, but it does not go nearly all the way. Is the State Board indicating that it generally supports the revised plan as is? It is disappointing to me and my school community that we are essentially backed into a corner with no additional room for revision or improvement.
While I appreciate OSSE’s efforts to respond to some of the community input, I still believe we can do better. I hope that you will not stop with the plan. I hope that OSSE will continue to work with the parent and educator community every step of the way through implementation. A plan is only as good as its implementation – and implementation will not be effective without parent and educator partnership.
TESTIMONY OF DANICA PETROSHIUS
DC State Board of Education Hearing
March 15, 2017
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. I’m Danica Petroshius, parent of two at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan.
Based on the conversation at your meeting yesterday I viewed via Periscope, it appears that there is State Board support for the revised ESSA plan. It begs the question: Is this a fake hearing?
I have been astounded at the disregard for DCPS parent and educator engagement in the ESSA plan process even though we support 49,000 students every day. OSSE has touted that it held “50 meetings with 100 organizations” throughout 2016 before the draft plan went public. We are supposed to applaud that as great public engagement. Who were those private meetings with?
- 50 charter schools or charter organizations
- 34 national education groups
- Only 10 local education organizations
- 4 universities
- 4 DC government agencies including DCPS
This is a very unbalanced outreach plan where 84% of the input came from charters and
national organizations that have no understanding of how DCPS schools operate and what the needs of our students are.
OSSE did hold one public meeting in each ward in June 2016. I can’t take that seriously. Anyone that truly wants to engage parents and teachers does not do so at end of school and summer when communication with schools and parents is difficult. Let’s face it. The DCPS parent and educator community did not help create the draft.
After these 2016 meetings, parents and educators did not see the draft plan until January 30th of this year. We had only one month to give input on a plan that will affect our children’s education for the next 10 years.
Now, again, we are being treated as expendable in this process. The revised draft came out only yesterday yet we have to testify on its merits within 24 hours.
Parents appreciated the full set of State Board recommendations to improve the ESSA plan.
Yesterday’s revised draft plan includes some improvements and it’s clear our advocacy helped move the needle forward. But it was not without a massive effort by us to overcome the reluctance of OSSE to listen.
OSSE is not elected and so has less stake in our voice. But the State Board is elected and has power to say “wait – we can think more, plan more, do better.” Please stop saying September is too late. 30 states are waiting until September to submit their plans and they will start collecting baseline data in 17-18 just like DC. We could wait and build a better plan with deep buy in. But OSSE says they won’t. I urge you, our elected body, to vote no on the plan. But based on yesterday’s swift, seemingly pre-baked support of the tweaked OSSE plan, it seems you have already decided to stand down.
So tonight I’m standing up for parents and educators who do the daily work to build excellent DCPS schools to say that we as a community can do better. We should not make stakeholders beg for real engagement. Parents and educators should not be “processed out” of the system by back-door deals.
I ask OSSE and the State Board to commit today to a better process going forward. As
Superintendent Kang has said over and over, this plan is “just the beginning.” In fact, the plan is full of policies that include “let’s look into it more”, “let’s phase it in” and “let’s test it out first.”
So I ask you to make public and articulate in the plan:
- your commitment to full transparency and ongoing engagement;
- a schedule that you will execute on engagement at each phase of implementation with the intention of seeking ways to continuously improve the plan;
- a process for implementing the Task Forces recommended by the State Board; and
- a process for sharing results of the pilot fully and hosting engagement meetings to
discuss how as a community we should use the results to improve the system.
We hope that OSSE and the State Board support our calls for more engagement, more
innovation and more transparency. Our students deserve it.
OSSE’s ESSA Draft Proposal
Dear members of DC’s state board of education,
I am Valerie Jablow, a DCPS parent. I am sending you all this via email because it is the only way I can get timely feedback to you on OSSE’s response to your recommendations on ESSA. I urge you to vote NO on OSSE’s ESSA proposal.
Yesterday afternoon, I found out about OSSE’s response to public comment on its ESSA draft proposal.
I didn’t get to read that response until this morning, while eating breakfast and trying to get my kids out the door.
Then I read that OSSE would promulgate a new draft plan by the end of today, which I have not yet seen.
How do you keep up?
Perhaps more importantly, how does any parent, teacher, or administrator keep up?
Back in November, I and other parents of public school students in DC testified before you about the horrible effect of a test-heavy emphasis in accountability on students and schools in DC.
In February, when the superintendent of OSSE and her chief of staff held a public meeting in Ward 6 on ESSA, they touted the feedback they had already received in 50 meetings with 100 different groups. And they repeatedly said that teachers, principals, and parents wanted the heavy-test emphasis of its draft proposal.
Jaws dropped in the room that night. Who were those people who wanted testing to dominate accountability? Certainly not anyone we knew in our schools!
Thus, several weeks ago I made a FOIA request of OSSE, for a list of meetings, participants, and feedback received in all its meetings on ESSA from such groups and individuals from January 1, 2016 through the end of February 2017.
Right now, the best evidence we have for such feedback is OSSE’s response document from yesterday—in which “many” and “some” commenters are said to have said something, all of which is not necessarily reflected in what OSSE is now proposing to do with ESSA!
Thus, I hope that my FOIA request will allow me and others to find out what the Chesapeake Bay Foundation had to say about ESSA in DC public schools—as well as the other organizations whose staff met with OSSE on ESSA implementation for more than a YEAR, while all of us DC citizens (who, unlike the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, actually have children and/or taxes in this game) had only 33 days to comment on the proposal. (Which is three days more than the federal minimum of 30 days for public comment–and a few days more than the DCPS chancellor got.)
Perhaps the most radical thing in OSSE’s draft calls for schools being taken over by other operators when their test scores do not go up after 4 years (p. 59).
As you know, even with the changes it is proposing, OSSE is still placing a heavy emphasis on test scores and attendance. At the same time, there is nothing in OSSE’s accountability framework that penalizes schools whatsoever for high suspension and expulsion rates.
So what is to stop a school from suspending and expelling its way into higher attendance rates or higher test scores?
And where will those students go when they are expelled or encouraged to leave?
To their by right schools!
So what does OSSE’s proposal do to take this differential into account and its effect on the scores of receiving schools?
This is what you are voting for with OSSE’s policy here.
As you know, our city creates new charter schools whenever and wherever, without any regard for the effect on existing schools, neighborhoods, or unfilled seats.
As a result, DCPS is losing about 1% per year of “marketshare,” because growth in DC public school seats does not match growth of overall enrollments or of our student population. Just next week, for instance, the charter board will hear comments on proposals by two charter operators—KIPP DC and DC Prep—to create five new schools and 4000 new seats. The board will vote on those proposals in April. The board has also received applications for eight new charter schools beyond that, which it will vote on in May.
At the same time that the charter board is considering 13 (!) new schools, DC has more than 10,000 unfilled seats at existing public schools. (Data from 21st Century School Fund, using current audited enrollment numbers and MFP.)
So what will happen ten years from now, when these ESSA rules are up for re-assessment?
Absent any change from city leaders in our public school governance, DCPS will certainly be the smallest school system. This means more DCPS closures.
And absent any change in this OSSE policy, it means that some schools in DCPS will just become a place for kids off’ed from other schools, as those other schools chase better attendance and higher test scores—and thus create an even faster metric by which receiving DCPS schools will be taken over or closed altogether, because there is no accounting for this dynamic whatsoever in this policy or any city governance of our public schools.
This is what you are voting for with OSSE’s policy here.
One of the aims of OSSE’s ESSA policy is to provide a way to compare schools fairly and to have a common system of accountability between them. But this betrays a facile notion of how our schools actually work.
As you know, one school system in our city is bound to uphold a RIGHT to education. That is DCPS. The other system, charter schools, is not bound to uphold that RIGHT. That immediately differentiates the two sectors in a way that cannot be compared. It doesn’t mean one is better than the other—it simply means that they are different by design. Why wouldn’t you have a system of accountability that takes that difference into account instead of actively denying it even exists?
Moreover, there is nothing common between those two sectors in expulsion rules; suspension rules; facilities requirements; curricula; teacher training; and teacher retention rates—all of which are important not only to student achievement, but also in accountability to the public. OSSE’s proposal doesn’t acknowledge any of this.
In fact, OSSE has made some rather huge assumptions in its draft proposal, which distort true accountability.
–That student satisfaction = school success = higher attendance rates. (See p. 5 of the response document.) What evidence is given to show attendance is 100% (or some other percentage) in the control of each school? What evidence is given to show that student satisfaction means the school is “successful” and that students will attend at higher rates? Indeed, what is “success” in this scheme if not mainly high test scores?
–That one of the purposes of the new rating system is to facilitate school choice by parents. This is perhaps the most grotesque distortion of ESSA possible. The point of school accountability is not to facilitate school choice, but to help students and to help schools help them. What assurance is here that parents and teachers will be able to use these test results and other criteria measured to help students learn better, except only in a punitive way, to avoid censure or takeover? Facilitating school choice should be the LAST thing that anyone is concerned about when it comes to helping our kids learn!
These assumptions and distortions are what you are voting for with OSSE’s policy here.
Finally, a note about compromise:
OSSE characterized its response yesterday to you and the public as a compromise.
But you, collectively, put together ten recommendations on OSSE’s draft proposal as a compromise before that—most of which have not even made it into OSSE’s response document.
So how much of a compromise was OSSE’s response yesterday—and for whom is it a compromise?
Here is a more concrete example:
OSSE’s rationale for not measuring high school growth is that different groups of high school students take different PARCC math tests and that it distorts scoring when those scores are combined.
OK. But right now, OSSE groups together middle school accelerated math test scores with regular math test scores and blithely spits out a number for both achievement and growth. That practice does indeed distort test scores—but OSSE has determined that’s OK with middle schools.
What sort of compromise is this?
I can attest that OSSE’s practice with those middle school scores has actively hurt my DCPS middle school, because a relatively large portion of its student body takes those accelerated math tests—whereas most other middle schools avoid those tests or have only a small fraction of their students take them.
So, instead of giving up on measuring high school growth or accurate middle school reporting, how about reporting data more responsibly (i.e., separate out results for accelerated tests)–or just using a different measure of math achievement than PARCC?
For all these reasons, I ask you to please not accept what OSSE is offering now. It is only a compromise of our ability to have rich, nuanced, and accurate assessments, which we desperately need and are not getting.
Your voting NO to OSSE’s proposal will give all of us time to make a policy of accountability that will reflect well on each school and every child. Thank you.