CHPSPO Meets February 21 at Capitol Hill Montessori@Logan – Accountability Framework

Dear Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization Members,

Wanted to remind everyone that Hansuel Kang, the Director of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s (OSSE) will attend the February 21 CHPSPO meeting (6:30 pm at Capitol Hill Montessori@Logan, 215 G Street, NE) to discuss the accountability framework OSSE is proposing to use for measuring academic progress and school quality under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Several CHPSPO members testified at the February 14 Education Committee hearing on concerns with the proposed accountability framework. It is important that principals, teachers, and parents attend the February 21 CHPSPO meeting to share your perspectives on the accountability framework as this will guide how our schools are evaluated for the next ten years. Please share this information with your school communities.

OSSE will also hold a Ward 6 meeting on February 27 from 6 – 8 pm at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (545 7th Street, SE) to discuss the proposed accountability framework.

Suzanne Wells

Capitol Hill Public School Parents Organization

Parents 4 Public Schools… Join the conversation


Suzanne Wells Testimony – OSSE Performance Oversight – Feb 14, 2017

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) Performance Oversight Hearing. I am going to focus my remarks on the important work OSSE is doing to develop school accountability measures under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA or the Act). The Act provides us a welcomed opportunity to make meaningful changes in how school quality is accessed, and we owe it to our students, teachers and school administrators to make thoughtful changes. 

In June, representatives from the State Board of Education came to the monthly meeting of the Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization (CHPSPO). At that meeting, parents shared their ideas on what they think makes a great school. You may be surprised, but not a single parent at the meeting said that high test scores made a great school. In fact, parents expressed concern that their children are being tested too much, and it comes at the expense of a well-rounded, academically challenging educational experience. Parents wanted to see testing used by teachers to assess students so the teacher could better target the areas where a student needed to improve rather than testing done primarily for the purpose of evaluating an entire school.
When parents were asked what made a great school, they spoke to issues that relate to the school climate. Is there trust between the principal and the teachers? Do students feel welcomed and excited about their school? Are the parents encouraged to be involved with the school? Does the school offer a challenging curriculum beyond English language arts and math? Does it have rich programs in arts, music, science, history, foreign language, physical education, and library studies? Does the school do a good job of creating a social/emotional climate that promotes conflict resolution, bullying prevention, and social/emotional learning? And, how does the school work to support its most vulnerable students; the students who are homeless, those whose parents are getting divorced, those whose parents are incarcerated or have substance abuse problems?

There are three things I want to encourage OSSE to consider as it develops its final plan for measuring school accountability: 1) the weight allocated to testing, 2) the consideration of school climate measures; and 3) the date OSSE submits its school accountability plan to the Department of Education.   

ESSA requires that the majority of the weight for school accountability be allocated to test scores. OSSE’s current proposal would give 80% of the weight to testing; 40% to the test scores, and 40% to growth in test scores. Devoting such a large percentage to test scores is concerning for several reasons. First, think back to when you were in school. Most often a grade in an individual class was determined based on the homework you completed, the written assignments, class participation, a mid-term exam, and a final exam. Maybe your final exam accounted for 40% of your grade, but rarely was the final exam 80% of your final grade. Why would we want to make test scores 80% of our school accountability measure? Second, the PARCC test scores are based on English and math. Why would we choose to ignore everything else that is taught in school throughout the year, for example, social studies and science?  

It is hard to underestimate the importance of school climate as it relates to student learning. Students learn a lot more when they attend school every day, and feel safe and welcomed at the school. Schools where teachers collaborate with each other, and where there is low teacher turnover can provide better instruction for their students. Schools where principals gather data to understand the school’s strengths and weaknesses in order to continually improve a school are more likely to be successful. School climate surveys exist which can be used to gather meaningful data to both hold schools accountable, and also to continual improve a school. Because the new school accountability measures will not go into effect until the 2018-2019 school year, there is time to pilot test the use of school climate surveys as an instrument to both gather information on school accountability and to develop actionable items that can be used to improve individual school performance.

ESSA allows for school accountability plans to be submitted in either April or September of 2017. Since the school accountability plans won’t go into effect next year, but rather in the 2018-2019 school year, there is no reason for OSSE to rush submission of its school accountability plan. I recommend the school accountability plan be submitted in September of 2017. This will allow OSSE time to thoughtfully evaluate the substantive comments it has received on the school accountability measures. It will also give the new DCPS Chancellor, Antwan Wilson, time to weigh in on the school accountability measures and how they will work to support his efforts to close the achievement gap.

In closing, I’d like to provide some specific suggestions for OSSE to consider before it submits its plan to measure school accountability. I encourage OSSE to:

  • Place the lowest weight allowed by the Every Student Succeeds Act on test scores while allowing student growth to play a large role in the weighting of test scores, and seek to find ways to express accountability in subject areas beyond English and math;
  • Pilot test a school climate survey instrument that will allows schools to gather actionable data on improving the school; and submit the school accountability measures in September 2017.



Suzanne Wells

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization (CHPSPO)

before the 

Education Committee

Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)

Performance Oversight Hearing

February 14, 2016


CHPSPO Meeting Notes – January 17 2017

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization

Jefferson Academy, January 17, 2017, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.


1. Capital Rowing Club – Ergathon

Capital Rowing Club is hosting an Ergathon on Saturday, February 18 @ Stuart-Hobson. The Ergathon benefits Capital Juniors, a program of Capital Rowing Club that combines academics and competitive rowing to build in DC’s young people (ages 13-18)  discipline, camaraderie, fitness, and stewardship for the Anacostia River. Join the fun, cheer a team, learn about rowing.


2. Education Committee Performance Oversight and Budget Hearings – Laura Marks (Chief of Staff for Councilmember Allen) and Angela Joyner (Deputy Director of the Council’s Budget Office)

See presentation for process, timeline, and contacts:


  • Council has 56 days to act on budget upon receipt on April 4
  • Fed budget act and local budget acts fund budget, Budget Support Act says how it will be funded
  • Per Pupil Funding Formula determines how individual schools are funded. If a school community needs funding beyond PPFF standards, start w Mayor’s office – Matthew Brown in budget office (see slides for contact)
  • Important to testify and articulate what your school needs
  • DGS / DCPS can be expected to hold joint performance oversight hearing, not budget hearing
  • DCPS is working with CM Grosso on school evaluations (vis a vis modernization) under PACE Act.


Testimony tips:


3. Education Specifications – DCPS Facilities Team

  • Access Draft Education Specifications and a google form for public to provide feedback
  • See presentation here.
  • Note education specifications do not include guidance around items like noise level, electrical wiring standards, etc which fall under DGS’ Design Guidelines.
  • Specifications allow for site specific revisions can be made


4. Student Climate Assessment Instruments – Caryn Ernst and Gary Ratner (Citizens for Effective Schools)

  • Draft ESSA to be released by OSSE on January 31.
  • Currently, OSSE is proposing 80% of school evaluation on standardized testing
  • Community has asked for less emphasis on testing, and if that the testing indicators be focused on growth over proficiency.
  • Essa requires school quality indicator, a state could choose an indicator, comprehensive assessment, to evaluate school climate (from perspective of students, staff, parents)
  • NOTE: DC Council – anything that had a hearing in prior period can move forward without a hearing
  • LEAs have own surveys and resist additional surveys
  • proposed for consideration by Gary Ratner, Citizens for Effective Schools
    • Note the above approach have not been used yet for accountability


3. Sign-on letter Chancellor Performance Evaluation Criteria

  • Group agreed to sign-on


Next CHPSPO Meeting: February 21, 2017


Upcoming Events

Cross Sector Collaboration Task Force

January 18, 2017, 6:00-7:30 pm, community meeting to discuss policy proposal to address student mobility, Northeast Public Library (330 7th St. NE).  Register at (

January 24, 2017, Task Force meeting, Department of For-Hire Vehicles Hearing Room (2235 Shannon Place, SE)

Feb. 2 – State of School Discipline 2015-2016 School Year at 1:00pm (412)
Feb. 10 – Department of Parks & Recreation at 11:00 am (412) – sign up via Transportation & Environment Cmte
Feb. 14 – Office of the State Superintendent of Education at 11:00 am (412)
Feb. 15 – Deputy Mayor for Education / State Board of Education at 10:00 am (123)
Feb. 17 – Department of Health at 11:00 am (412) – sign up via Health Committee
Feb. 22 – DC Public Library at 10:00 am (412)
Feb. 23 – DCPS Public Witnesses at 10:00 am (500)
Feb. 28 – Department of General Services at 11:00 am (500) – sign up via Transportation & Environment Commitee
Feb. 28 – Public Charter School Board / Bullying Prevention Taskforce (123)
Mar. 2 – DCPS Government Witnesses at 10:00 am (412)
Apr. 25 – Deputy Mayor for Education at 10:00 am (123)
Apr. 26 – Office of the State Superintendent of Education at 11:00 am (120)
Apr. 27 – DCPS Public Witnesses *10am start – RECESS – 5pm start* (500)
May 1 – DC Public Library at 11:00 am (412)
May 3 – DCPS Government Witnesses at 10:00 am (412)
May 4 – Public Charter School Board / State Board of Education at 10:00 am (412)


Grant Opportunity

DDOEE Community Stormwater Solutions Grant (grants up to $20K to improve stormwater management), due January 27, 2017 at 5 pm


Summer Camp Fair

January 26, 2017, 6 – 8 pm, J.O. Wilson, 660 K St., NE




This May Be Your LAST CHANCE to give input on DC public school accountability measures!

If you care about what educational standards DC’s public schools will be held accountable to in the future, you have ONLY until February 28, 2017 to make your voice heard!

DC’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s (OSSE) current school accountability proposal sets standardized test scores at 80% of a school’s overall rating, with the remaining 20% split between attendance and re-enrollment rates. It gives 0% weight to comprehensive school climate measures known to help schools improve.

At recent public hearings, parents and teachers urged OSSE and the State Board of Education (SBOE) to reduce the weight of test scores to the lowest percent allowed under the law—55%. They testified that using standardized test scores as the primary measurement for school quality has had a negative impact on learning environments; has grossly failed to close the achievement gap; and has contributed to growing educational disparities throughout our school system.

Now, OSSE is ignoring feedback from parents and teachers and unnecessarily fast-tracking this ineffective proposal: the agency wants to submit a final proposal by March 30, 2017, though the real deadline is September. That rushed schedule UNDERMINES the ability of education stakeholders to collaborate on developing robust school accountability measures that can help schools improve, and will severely restrict the new Chancellor Antwan Wilson’s capacity to close the achievement gap.

IF THIS MATTERS TO YOU, TAKE ACTION NOW: (contact information below)

1. CALL OR EMAIL State Superintendent Hanseul Kang and tell her to reduce the weight of standardized test scores in school ratings and urge her to NOT SUBMIT her proposal to the feds until September in order to allow the new Chancellor to collaborate with stakeholders to develop more effective measures.

2. CALL OR EMAIL your State Board of Education representative and urge them to reject OSSE’s current proposal and insist that OSSE be responsive to citizen feedback by significantly reducing the weight of test scores in its proposal.

Office of the State Superintendent of Education: Hansuel Kang, superintendent,, (202) 727-6436

State Board of Education Members: At-large – Ashley Carter

Ward 1 – Laura Wilson Phelan,, (202) 421-4360

Ward 2 – Jack Jacobson, Chair of the Board, (202) 251-7644

Ward 3 – Ruth Wattenberg, (202) 320-7884

Ward 4 – Lannette Woodruff

Ward 5 – Mark Jones, (202) 304-7294

Ward 6 – Joe Weedon, (202) 277-9410

Ward 7 – Karen Williams, Vice President of Board, (301) 641-1926

Ward 8 – Markus Batchelor

Stay engaged by attending the Ward based community meetings.  Ward 6 discussions with OSSE and State Superintendent Hanseul Kang will be held on:

  • February 21 @ Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, 6:30 PM
  • February 27 @ Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 6-8:00 PM.

CHPSPO Meets Tuesday, January 17 @ Jefferson Academy

CHPSPO will meet on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, at 6:30 pm at Jefferson Academy (801 7th St., SW).

We have a full agenda for our meeting. We will be discussing the upcoming DC Council Education Committee’s upcoming performance oversight and budget hearings, the draft final education specifications for school buildings, recommendations on school climate assessment instruments, and the attached sign-on letter to Mayor Bowser regarding the performance evaluation criteria for the new Chancellor, Antwan Wilson. Hope to see you on Tuesday.

Suzanne Wells

011717 CHPSPO Agenda.docx

2017-1-18 Chancellor Performance Criteria C4DC 2.docx


Max Kieba Testimony – DCPS Chancellor Hearing – December 8, 2016

Testimony by Max Kieba, Maury parent

DC Council Committee on Education Hearing: PR21-1040 – Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools Antwan Wilson Confirmation Resolution of 2016

December 8, 2016

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the proposed confirmation of Antwan Wilson as Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools.  My name is Max Kieba: I’m a parent at Maury Elementary, serve as the School Improvement Team (SIT) Co-Coordinator for our upcoming renovation project and one of Maury’s representatives in the Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization (CHPSPO).

I wasn’t directly part of the selection process other than through CHPSPO we did provide some input on what we hope to see in the new chancellor.   While we’re collectively still getting to know each other better and look forward to learning more from him today, many aspects of his background and skill sets appear to address many of traits we asked for in a new chancellor and areas in which we can continue to improve… communication, helping to address the achievement gap, and equity for high quality education for all students.

We look forward to working with him with an open mind and hope he will do the same in working with us.   We also want to make sure he’s aware that while he is coming into a system that has improved in many ways, it also has room for improvement elsewhere.     Among some areas of improvement I’d like to highlight and which we’d like to better understand his approach and any thoughts he may have based on his introduction to the district and DCPS so far:

Improving Trust within the System

We are all part of the system, whether it’s DCPS front office, the schools, families or other agencies/stakeholders that may interact with one another.  DCPS is a key interface for so many processes, but there are unfortunately a lot of apparent trust issues at play that seems to go both ways… there is a lack of trust families have with DCPS, and apparent lack of trust DCPS has with its schools and families.  Many of these issues involve communication and effective community engagement, but at a high level the general perception is DCPS seems to believe it knows what’s best for the schools, makes decisions with little to no true engagement and the schools and families should just fall in line with decisions that are made.    It’s difficult for schools and families to trust DCPS if DCPS doesn’t trust its schools and families in the communication and engagement process.

Communication and Effective Community Engagement

We continue to have issues with open communication and truly effective and robust community engagement.   Most of my experience has been with the modernization/SIT process, but it seems to manifest itself in other processes as well.  While this can’t all be put on the chancellor position, there appears to continue to be a less than healthy culture at DCPS with respect to communication and engagement within and across certain offices (the silo effect), with other key agencies like DGS and externally with schools and their families.    Information is rarely shared in a timely fashion, or when information is pushed out it comes with little to no raw data with it or substantive rationale for the decisions.  In most cases, schools and families are then asked to provide quick feedback based on limited information because we don’t have time to discuss in detail.  When questions are asked in an attempt to have a constructive dialogue, the answer is usually they’ll get back to us (rarely do they in a timely fashion) or it involves another office we need to contact.  When we contact that office, no replies and the cycle repeats itself.    When we ask for public meetings to discuss further, little to no action is taken or schools have to take it upon ourselves to share information publicly or engage in discussions with others, again though with more questions than answers on what DCPS is thinking.  When someone from DCPS does attend a meeting, it’s usually not the people with decision making authority and the cycle continues.   We want to do what we can to be a team player, follow the process and have DCPS take the lead, but they sure make it tough. 

Continuing to support and invest in our middle schools

DCPS needs to continue to support, invest and help improve our middle schools.  DC enrollment is increasing and the families that are coming into the system are generally more affluent, have more education (and are more white) than the average DCPS student.  Those families are demanding high quality education for their children, yes, but they understand the importance of building a system that provides equality of opportunity (and quality learning outcomes) to all students.  That demand for increased quality can benefit everyone if DCPS can appropriately channel that demand/enthusiasm. The new chancellor should build on this momentum and work with families to keep them in the system (and keep them from moving to the suburbs).  Working with those families means being more transparent on decision-making and critically, moving very quickly to improve middle schools (so those families will stay). Mayor Bowser’s promise of “Deal for everyone” does not, we presume, mean that everyone has to enroll at Deal. The Chancellor should immediately act to make DCPS middle schools competitive with charters from an academic perspective.  Many of these “new” families were lured into DCPS by free early childhood education.  DCPS will keep them if they step up their game in middle school, but it needs to happen quickly.

Middle school decisions should all happen at the same time

The new chancellor should work together with the DC Public Charter School Board to find ways how we can make the decision processes for families more fair and equitable.  One key area is helping to encourage all charters to start their entry grade in grade 6, similar to DCPS middle schools, instead of grade 5.  To be clear, we feel public charters and DCPS do have a place together in the overall education system and there are many reasons families may choose a public charter over DCPS middle school.    However, we are losing far too many families in our school and DCPS in the 5th (and sometimes earlier grades) based often on the fear that if they don’t make a move then, they may have no shot.    In the process of making those early decisions, we also suffer with issues in testing results and the overall achievement gap especially when the better performing students are often the ones leaving the DCPS system earlier.   

Improve on equity

DCPS did not go far enough in solving the problem of using the education system to redistribute how students get assigned to schools. For more affluent/high demand schools, DCPS should introduce a percentage of low-income lottery spots.  With the boundary redrawing, we’ve essentially locked in the tight relationship between income and school quality/outcomes. Schools need to be sized to accommodate both their in-bounds population as well as sub group (10%-20% of total?) of income-based out of bounds lottery winners.   We need to honor the right to attend your neighborhood school, but also recognize the need that building a highly educated society requires a diversity of experiences and background all mixed together.  There aren’t very many US cities that have done a good job with this, but surely we can improve upon the existing model by giving more of an eye to equity.  This is a challenge at Maury with its already being overcapacity and challenges in right-sizing the renovation/addition given our tight footprint, but there are ways to do it right and we embrace diversity. 

School Nurse reduction/reallocation plan

We thank Council for helping to influence in a delay in the decision surrounding resource allocation of school nurses.  We continue to be concerned about the potential for a reduction.  We’ve had multiple 911 calls, broken wrists, asthma issues, etc. etc.  It would be great to make it a priority to prevent cutting our full time nurse.  Currently the issue may be on hold but there is a concern it may be sneaked through when no one is looking (again, the trust issue).  It’s fascinating to see the number of students that have health issues that will fall through the cracks if a nurse is not here.  The solution is usually to rely on “med givers” which are four paras that get pulled out of a classroom to attend the students.  The teachers in pre k 3 and 4 cannot be alone with their students and it has caused other unsafe scenarios when it happens in today’s world.    We need more hours not less.  Or if this truly may be the best approach for multiple reasons, we at least ask for more public dialogue.