Status

W6PSPO Meeting Notes – April 9, 2019

April 9, 2019
Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, 215 G St. NE, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

  1. Theodora Brown & Raenelle Zapata (Ward 5 Council on Education) and Eboni-Rose Thompson (Ward 7 Education Council) – Ward Council priorities and how we can better support each other

Ward 5

  • Founded in 1995. Traditionally, conducted an annual survey of all schools – talk to staff (secretaries/custodial staff, etc).
  • Under Rhee, all Ward 5 middle schools closed, and became education campus models. Middle school students were not accommodated; no pre algebra, no world language, and therefore, Ward 5 students could not apply to School Without Walls or Banneker. Ward 5 Education Council fought to reopen middle schools, and DCPS opened Brookland Middle School and McKinley Tech Middle School
  • Schools in Ward 5 still struggle from underfunding. None of schools in Ward 5 have full-time librarians.
  • Today: Priority is to revitalize Ward 5 Council on Education
    Paul Kihn joined in March; inviting CM Allen & Grosso to talk about Transparency legislation

Ward 7

  • Budget
  • Reasons behind budget shortfall by ~$15M
    • New costs like security
    • Extended year ending
    • Enrollment projections are unclear and inaccurate
    • Over-saturation of schools; capacity exceeds demand and students are scattered
    • Combination of above, seeing hits beyond 5% yet schools are losing stabilization funds
    • Budgets came out late; after oversight hearings, so schools did not show up during hearings to address budget cuts; lag in information
    • Priority – stop the bleeding; Ward 7 only second to Ward 8 vis-a-vis school age kids, but not many go to in-boundary schools.
  • Action
    • Joining ANC meetings to discuss a resolution to support additional funding for the DCPS schools in Ward 7
    • Ensure every ANC passes resolution
    • Eboni-Rose to email resolution to Suzanne
    • Budget advocacy cheat sheet for individuals. Not all schools have PTAs; not every issue specific to one school – helpful to speak with a collective voice
    • Working to come up w/ a # around funding gap
  • Obstacles
    • Ward 7 has STEM and language immersion schools, but there is little support for the programs.
    • Feeders are broken in Ward 7, e.g., H.D. Woodson High Schools’ only feeder school is Kelly-Miller Middle School which also feeds into Eastern High School.
    • Transportation is another important issue, especially for Kelly-Miller. Transportation was raised at the Strategic Planning Cabinet meeting.
    • Parents invest, but DCPS is not matching the investment; parents are willing to be partners, but not risk it all without investment by DCPS
  • Feeder Strategy
  • People are less concerned about the type of programming at a school, and more concerned about what the feeder pathway is. Looking to DCPS to support vertical articulation (path for language, path for STEM, etc)
  • Think more creatively about Sousa? Are there cluster situations to be leveraged?
  • Programming strategies? Every conversation with DCPS = how to better invest in schools in ways that translate to families.
  • Address Woodson’s lack of adequate feeder pattern – Kelly Miller has rights to Eastern and Woodson
  • CM Trayon White drafted resolution for Ward 8 schools that had support from every at large CM

2. C4DC Budget Proposal (see DC Fiscal Policy Institute budget analysis and this WUSA9 report and the C4DC budget tool)

Proposal

  • Important for communities to have access to by right schools w/ predictability through high school
  • Target increased funding to DCPS schools hardest hit in Wards 7 & 8. The students who need the most are getting the least in this year’s budget.
  • Stable feeder patterns are needed across city; how to support feeder systems across the city and how do we ensure the schools fill the needs of kids in each community
  • A stimulus investment is needed for the under enrolled feeder patterns to attract students to them, and over time it will cost the city less due to factors such as more efficient use of school buildings.
  • Timeline: currently gathering feedback. Education Committee report May 2, this is where Ed committee will show how it intends to increase funding for schools
  • Discussion
    • Q: Will focus include guidance around where DCPS should put the money? A: We’ll give them some direction. It will be critical to give direction in order to defend the amount we’re asking for.
    • We will need to make the case for why the Council should fund DCPS and not the charters with additional funds. There is justification in the law, in the high gain of DCPS students throughout the year. Ward 7 is asking for the at risk funds to be restored. This may be the largest hurdle.
    • Part of the pitch is we will not accept any more closings; this council cannot be the one that oversees the death of DCPS
    • Believe CM Mendelson will add $ to schools. The question is how much? Acute need is in DCPS.
    • Justifying cuts w/ enrollment, which are guesses; w/out investment in schools, enrollment will drop.
    • Enrollment reserves are not being used
  • How can we support:
    • Testify at Council meetings; help our councilmembers DME Hearing April 25
    • WTU Rally on April 25 – 4:30pm

3. DME Hearing April 25 & W6PSPO Testimonies

4. Bike-to-School Day is May 8, 7:30-8:15 AM @ Lincoln Park. All schools are invited.

Next CHPSPO Meeting: May 21, 2019

Upcoming Events

  • April 20 – National Park Service Easter Egg Hunt at Frederick Douglass House (10am-1pm)
  • April 25 Deputy Mayor for Education Budget Oversight Hearing
  • May 8 Bike-to-School Day, Lincoln Park

Visit W6PSPO on the web at http://chpspo.org

Status

W6PSPO Meeting Notes – March 19, 2019

March 19, 2019
Payne Elementary School, 1445 C Street, SE, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

  1. At-Risk Funding Overview – Betsy Wolf, Amidon-Bowen parent [See presentation]
  • Inequity in school funding in DCPS
    • DCPS funds look like they are equitably allocated across schools in that schools serving greater % at-risk get more funds. But schools serving greater % at-risk also serve more students with IEPs. Taking out special education funding, no longer see equitable funding across schools in DCPS.
    • Why not? Where is at-risk money going? It’s going to cover core general and special education positions in many cases. At-risk money is not truly supplementing the base funding.
  • Achievement gaps
    • DC has a large achievement gap because it has large income inequality. Nationwide, achievement gaps are the highest in places with the greatest income inequality.
  • Interventions to target achievement gaps
    • To target the achievement gap, you need to supplement instruction for the lowest performing students. Small-group instruction and tutoring have been shown to be the most impactful interventions in education research. But schools don’t have enough extra money to fund positions like reading specialists across the board.
  1. Open discussion with Chancellor Ferebee
  • Budget: trying to address decline in enrollment w/in schools in East DC vs
    https://twitter.com/VJablow/status/1108737079670964224

    Community response to Chancellor Ferebee’s characterization of FY20 budget

    overcrowding in West DC 

  • Pointed to Council legislation re: stabilization to support schools in enrollment decline (cap at 5% of resources)
  • Confusion remains around DCPS budget/follow the $?
    • Start at per pupil allocation, then add $
    • Comprehensive staffing model adds to ‘blur’
  • Re: recommended interventions to target achievement gaps (like small group/reading specialist):
    • School based decision today; do we create a model that is mandatory
    • Influence of great teachers/school leaders is not necc equitable
    • Believes in autonomy, but also in sharing with schools research-based strategies to inform their staffing and budgeting decisions.
  • Cross-sector planning (W6PSPO → community members; CF: Chancellor Ferebee)
    • W6PSPO: Proliferation of charters and impact on overall resources. CF: Approaching coordination carefully;
    • W6PSPO: Need planning and stability w/ policy around it; Need Chancellor to be ‘cheerleader’ for DCPS
  • Inequity w/in schools
    • W6PSPO: Resources/visibility w/in schools are focused on early childhood families (engagement is higher from early childhood families), but schools are being judged by test scores at 4/5th grades
  • Teacher Turnover
    • W6PSPO: When classrooms are without a teacher for extended period of time, is there an accountability model parents can follow up with beyond the principal? (Principals are not always responsive nor give priority to staffing gaps). CF: Instructional superintendents are first point of contact.
  • School Leadership:
    • W6PSPO:What can the DCPS do to strengthen teacher/principal retention? CF: Exploring multi-year principal contract (today, principal contracts are renewed -or not- annually);  Committed to engaging w/ WTU on IMPACT; Solve for great leadership
    • W6PSPO: Principals are able to use IMPACT to evaluate and retaliate against teachers; teachers don’t have a meaningful way to give feedback on principals. CF: DCPS tracks data about whether teachers return. Understand that there are independent evaluators under IMPACT. W6PSPO: Correction – WTU did not want evaluators who didn’t know them, the school community and requested peer evaluators. Suggest DCPS pursue meaningful feedback from teachers when evaluating principal’s performance;
  • Modernizations/Community Engagement:
    • W6PSPO: Modernization/PACE act – suggestion to engage parents who have gone through SIT process to get a view ‘under the hood’ how policy plays out in practice.
    • W6PSPO: What can we hold DCPS accountable for vis a vis lead in drinking water? CF: DGS/DCPS committed to communicating at each step of the process.
    • W6PSPO:  DCPS central office staff need to spend more time in the schools, understand what happens on the ground
  1. Open discussion with Jessica Sutter, SBOE W6
  • State board voting on priorities Weds, March 20
    • STAR report/dc school report card
    • OSSE survey on report cards: 3 year cycle for changes, except High school growth model
    • High school graduation requirements/Credit recovery
    • Committees
      • Teacher/leader turnover
        • Teacher/leader working group 
      • Research 
      • Social studies 
      • Rich curriculum 
      • UPDATE: State Board members will meet monthly in working groups related to school visits (first Tuesday), teacher retention (third Friday), rich curriculum (fourth Monday), research (fourth Monday), and social studies (fourth Monday). These working groups will be an opportunity for members to discuss key issue and focus areas that the State Board has identified as priorities for 2019. The discussions will provide members the opportunity to share thoughts, recommendations, and next steps for the SBOE. Thank you! ~ Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist, SBOE
  • Ward 6 DCSBOE Rep Proposed Priorities (JS = Jessica Sutter; W6PSPO → Community members)
    • OSSE STAR Rating Feedback: JS: Will use OSSE Survey and SBOE surveys as starting point for community level discussions. How best to do the OSSE/STAR feedback for Ward 6?  W6PSPO: Best at school level; better opportunity for collecting feedback, esp from teachers. Focus group model.
    • Middle/HS paths: Ward 6 families have expressed frustration around middle and high school options. (in particular lack of strategy around dual language continuation) Middle and high schools (mostly parents from dual language programs have reached out and are dissatisfied w/ feeder options). Looking at options for bringing solutions for Tyler and Stokes communities. W6PSPO: Should start conversation with DCPS; feeders patterns would be affected.
    • Advocacy Coordination Across Sectors: JS: should W6PSPO broaden advocacy efforts to also include charters? W6PSPO: overall, priorities are not necessarily always aligned. Currently, W6PSPO has hands full w/stabilizing feeder patterns, DCPS budget, technology, etc. W6PSPO always open to coordinating with charter schools when it makes sense on specific issues common to all schools.  Some common areas might include standardizing grades (like grade middle schools start, e.g., 5th for charters, 6th for DCPS; SpEd student imbalance (neighborhood schools and open enrollment schools bear the brunt of SpEd-heavy communities, while charter and selective DCPS schools have low SpEd population).

4. Wilson Building Visits – Danica Petroshius –

  •  Friday, March 23 10AM-4PM. Danica to follow up via email to W6PSPO


5. CHPSPO’s new name →
W6PSPO 

 

Next CHPSPO Meeting: April 23, 2019 (Note:  4th Thursday due to spring break)

Upcoming Events

Budget Oversight Hearings – Register to testify here–> http://bit.do/educationhearings

  • March 27      State Board of Education, Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education, and the Office of the Student Advocate
  • March 29      DCPS (Public Witnesses Only)
  • April 4          Public Charter School Board
  • April 9          Office of the State Superintendent of Education
  • April 25        Deputy Mayor for Education

March 25      Capitol Hill Community Foundation Spring Grants deadline

March 29      Ferebee Friday, Pretzel Bakery, 8 – 9:30 am

Visit W6PSPO on the web at http://chpspo.org

Status

CHPSPO Meets Tuesday, March 19 @ Payne ES

CHPSPO will meet on Tuesday, March 19, at 6:30 pm at Payne Elementary School (1445 C St., SE).  Chancellor Ferebee and W6 SBOE representative Jessica Sutter will join us at our meeting.  We’ll also be deciding on CHPSPO’s new name!  I hope you can join us.

Suzanne Wells

————————

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization

March 19, 2019

Payne Elementary School

1445 C Street, SE

6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Mission Statement – To promote cooperation among the parent organizations of the public schools on Capitol Hill in order to improve the education received by all children attending our schools.

6:30 – 6:40 Welcome and Introductions

6:40 – 6:50 At-Risk Funding Overview – Betsy Wolf, Amidon-Bowen parent

6:50 – 7:30 Open discussion with Chancellor Ferebee

7:30 – 7:45 Open discussion with Jessica Sutter, SBOE W6

7:45 – 7:50 Wilson Building Visits – Danica Petroshius

7:50 – 8:00 CHPSPO’s new name

Next CHPSPO Meeting: April 23, 2019 (Note: 4th Thursday due to spring break)

Upcoming Events

Budget Oversight Hearings

March 27 State Board of Education, Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education, and the Office of the Student Advocate

March 29 DCPS (Public Witnesses Only)

April 4 Public Charter School Board

April 9 Office of the State Superintendent of Education

April 25 Deputy Mayor for Education

March 25 Capitol Hill Community Foundation Spring Grants deadline

March 29 Ferebee Friday, Pretzel Bakery, 8 – 9:30 am

Visit CHPSPO on the web at http://chpspo.org

Status

CHPSPO Meets Tuesday, February 12, at the Wilson Building

Dear Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization Members,

We’re doing things a little differently this month. CHPSPO is meeting on the 2nd Tuesday of the month (this Tuesday, February 12), and we’re going to have our meeting in hearing room 120 at the Wilson building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW). The meeting will run from 6:30 – 8 pm.

We’ll be joined at our meeting by Betsy Wolf, an Amidon-Bowen parent, who is going to share research she’s done on how at-risk funds are distributed and used across schools in DC, and interventions that appear most promising for increasing the achievement of at-risk students.

We are meeting at the Wilson building because on February 12 there is a public roundtable on the confirmation of Dr. Ferebee as DCPS Chancellor, and a number of CHPSPO members are testifying. The hearing starts at 2 pm, and is in hearing room 412. If the roundtable ends before our meeting is over, Dr. Ferebee plans to attend the CHPSPO meeting.

Hope to see you on Tuesday at the public roundtable and the CHPSPO meeting!

Suzanne Wells

Agenda    At-Risk Funding and the Achievement Gap (1)

Mary Levy Testimony – Roundtable on At-Risk Funding – February 1, 2019

TESTIMONY BEFORE THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE AND THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COUNCIL
At-Risk Funding Transparency

Mary Levy   –   February 1, 2019

Thank you for holding this hearing, and thanks to the Council members who introduced and who supported this legislation.  Since 1980, I have analyzed public school budgets, expenditures, and staffing to determine where the money goes.  For each of the past five years I have worked with the Coalition for DC Public Schools and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute to analyze local school budgets, especially the use of at-risk funding.

Clearly, each year DCPS has used at-risk funding to supplant funds for other programs, in contravention of the DC Code.  My colleagues and I have documented this practice; the Committee on Education itself has consistently made the same finding in annual Committee reports; and DCPS officials have admitted it in testimony to this Council.  Yet it has continued.

This practice cheats at-risk students by using funds designated to services to support them to instead fund services for which all qualifying students are entitled, regardless of at-risk status.  These services include legally required special education and ELL student services as well as general education services provided to all students in each grade level.  Schools with few at-risk students and little money to take have virtually all of their core program funded with regular funds, while schools with large at-risk enrollments have less per pupil in regular funding.  This is classic supplant rather than supplement.[1]

In addition, our analyses show that this practice is inequitable among schools with similar populations.  The siphoning off of at-risk funds varies greatly among individual schools in any given year; some schools lose most of their at-risk funds to supplanting and others very little.

There already being a law against using at-risk funds this way, the proposed legislation is an important further step in securing more effective services for at-risk students.  I see two main strands:  transparency and an increased role for local schools in determining the best use of the funds.   Transparency in the form of full information both in budget formulation and in reporting on actual use of funds is important and necessary.  Sunshine makes a difference, and the specific provisions here will help prevent the budget fait accomplis that we have experienced, where mis-allocation becomes visible only when it is too late to correct.

Having the plans for use of at-risk funds formulated by principals and Local School Advisory Teams brings in the expertise of those closest to individual students and their needs.  This was part of the original enactment providing at-risk funding, and the Council was right the first time.  The Chancellor will retain the ability to amend inappropriate plans, and the incidence of siphoning at-risk funds off for core program use will probably be eliminated.

Please enact this legislation.

——-

APPENDIX

DCPS officials have argued that they cannot afford to fully fund the core program services provided to all students regardless of at-risk status.  More money from the Council would be helpful, but even without it, there are at least three alternatives available:

(a) Rethink general education entitlements: do all students, even the most advantaged, need every single staff/NPS level entitlement?

(b) Reduce funding for programs not based on student need that are available to only a select few schools chosen by criteria unknown. I have a list.

(c) Cut down on central office staff, who are much more numerous and much more highly paid than was the case 12 years ago

As to alternative (c), according to the most recent statistics from Census Bureau fiscal reports, DCPS central office spending in FY 2016 was 10.8% of total current expenditures, compared to the U.S. average of 1.9% percent.  DCPS is spending $2,260 per pupil, which is ten times the US average of $226.[2]  For many years I have categorized DCPS employees by whether or not they serve students directly, which is what most members of the public want to know when they ask about central office or “administration.”[3]   The number of central office full-time equivalent staff performing the same functions that DCPS now performs has risen from 516 in 1981, when we had 95,000 students to 626 in 2007, when we had 52,000, to 797 this year for about 49,000.

Below are November 2019 counts of central office staff with common titles.  Certainly the system needs some number of these people.  Those who are really good are worth a great deal.  But do we really need 45 Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs?  86 Directors?  180 Program Specialists?

Title # of FTEs Title # of FTEs
Chief 14 Program Specialist 180
Deputy Chief 31 Project Manager 73
Director 86 Coordinator 144
Manager 79 Analyst 55
Specialist 84 Program Coordinator 9

If central office were reduced to a more reasonable level, DCPS would not have to appropriate at-risk funds for core program services that are funded with regular funds at schools in well-to-do neighborhoods.

[1] Some alternatives are listed on the reverse of this testimony.

[2] Derived from U.S. Census Bureau, Public Education Finances:  2016, May, 2018 Tables 6, 7 and 19.  https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2016/econ/school-finances/secondary-education-finance.html.  These figures are self-reported by DCPS.

[3] The source is lists of DCPS employees, obtained by FOIA or from submissions to the D.C. Board of Education (before FY 2008) or to the DC Council (since FY 2008), based on office of employment, program, job title, purpose of applicable grant funding, and DCPS website descriptions.  Employees performing functions subsequently transferred or contracted out are excluded in the earlier year calculations.

Status

Jessica Sutter Testimony – Roundtable on At-Risk Funding – February 1, 2019

February 1, 2019

Jessica Sutter

Testimony at Council Oversight Roundtable on At Risk Funding Transparency

Thank you Chairman Mendelson and Members of the DC Council for inviting public testimony today. My name is Jessica Sutter and I have the honor of representing Ward 6 on the DC State Board of Education. I am testifying here today as an individual, and not on behalf of the SBOE.

I support the goal of this bill: to help guarantee that the original purpose of the at-risk funding mechanism—promoting equity of opportunity in education—is fully realized. Increasing equity of opportunity for all young people is why so many educators decided to work in or with public schools. But we have not yet realized the goal of providing all DC children with equitable opportunities to succeed and I believe that some modifications to the bill can help us get a bit closer than we are today.

I have three requests to modify the bill as currently written.

First – there is simply a need for more funding to serve students who are identified as “at-risk.” We know this. The 2014 Adequacy Study from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education recommended for $3906 per student identified as “at-risk.” Our current funding is nowhere near that. In order to best serve the diverse needs of our diverse student body in Ward 6, and all across the city, we need the UPSFF to be adjusted to weight “at-risk” funding at the recommended level. This will benefit early childhood students at Amidon-Bowen ES and AppleTree PCS, it will benefit middle school students at Eliot-Hine and it will benefit young people in the alternative education programming at Kingsman Academy. All Ward 6 students – and all students District-wide – who meet the definition of being “at risk” deserve these funds as a matter of educational equity. I ask that you increase the funding to the recommended level and ensure that school leaders have the power to spend it in ways that can best serve the needs of children in their care.

Second, I’d recommend streamlining the reporting on how at-risk funds are spent. As written, the bill would require LEAs to provide reports to the Council each year that explain how each school used its at-risk funds. Rather than create an additional report, it would be great to see this information reported as part of the DC School Report Card, allowing students and families a chance to gain an understanding of schools’ budgeting priorities and spending histories. This would increase school budget and funding transparency – a matter for which parents and teachers across the city are currently advocating. DC PAVE has selected school funding and budget transparency as one of their key advocacy issues for 2019.

The ESSA Task Force of the SBOE is working with OSSE to establish how data on per pupil expenditures will be displayed on the School Report Card (starting in December 2019), the at-risk funding expenditures could, perhaps be displayed in the same section. This would streamline information for the public, especially families, and it could reduce the administrative burden on schools that are saddled with many reporting requirements to their LEA, to OSSE, the federal government, and other external partners and grantors.

Finally, adding a standardized set of terms and definitions—like a common set of expenditure categories—to the language of this bill would ensure all LEAs are reporting the same data points and pieces of information. It would also allow for easier at-a-glance understanding of how schools use these funds to promote both well-being and improved achievement among at-risk students, and better (if still limited) comparisons across schools. Common categories would allow for public transparency in considering how schools spend these funds, while also acknowledging that the kinds of expenditures that benefit students classified as “at risk” are often hard to tie directly to immediate (i.e. – within year) academic outcomes.

I thank you for your consideration of these recommendations and for allowing me time to speak today.

 

Status

Grace Hu Testimony – Roundtable on At-Risk Funding – February 1, 2019

Grace Hu
Amidon-Bowen Elementary PTA
mailto:amidonbowendc@gmail.com
February 1, 2019

My name is Grace Hu. I serve on the PTA of Amidon-Bowen Elementary and have previously served on the Amidon-Bowen Local School Advisory Team.  On behalf of the Amidon-Bowen PTA, I would like to thank you for holding this hearing and specifically thank Councilmember Charles Allen for introducing legislation on the important topic of at-risk funding.

Earlier this week Comments on CM Allen At Risk Funding bill Jan 29 2019. Our PTA contributed to and endorses those comments. My testimony today provides additional views specific to our school community.

Chronic underfunding not an excuse to misuse at-risk funding

Amidon-Bowen Elementary, the neighborhood elementary school for Southwest DC, serves approximately 350 students, of which more than 70% have been identified as “at risk”.  Our parents notice that staffing positions are on the chopping block each year and students lack basic resources (e.g., computers to support online testing and curricula, paper, other supplies) in the classroom. We wonder how are we expected to close the achievement gap (and overcome our 2-star OSSE rating) without a serious investment of resources?

But while we believe there is a chronic underfunding of our schools, we also believe that chronic underfunding is not an excuse for the misuse of at-risk fundsAs long as at-risk funding is being used to cover budget gaps at our neediest schools while schools without at-risk funding are provided base positions and resources without this shell game (see footnote [1]) of moving around at-risk money to cover shortfalls, funds that are designed to provide equity will continue to be used to create inequity.

At-risk funds and student achievement

Although the intent of existing law is to improve student achievement among at-risk students, we currently use at-risk funding on things like social workers, psychologists, and afterschool staffing. These provide significant value to our students and families and should be available, but they are not specifically targeted to closing the achievement gap. If we want to narrow the achievement gap, we have to be more intentional about targeting instructional resources to at-risk students. Research shows that biggest bang for your buck in improving student performance is supplementing instruction, for example, providing more staffing to enable small group tutoring and smaller class sizes.

We have seen encouraging early evidence of the impact of supplemental instructional support at Amidon-Bowen. Last year was the first year that Amidon-Bowen employed both a reading specialist and a math intervention coach. The math intervention coach provides small group and intensive tutoring to roughly 30 low-performing students in grades 4 and 5. The reading specialist provides intensive tutoring to 25 low-performing students in grades 2 to 5. The initial results are promising: a higher percentage of students receiving additional math support met their middle-of-the-year growth targets compared to students who did not receive the additional support. 80% of those who met with the reading specialist met their growth goals, and average gains for “below basic” students who met with the reading specialist were higher than those of similarly low-performing students who did not receive this support.

Despite this progress, we’ve been told by DCPS to not expect these positions to be continued in future years. One of these positions was funded with at-risk funds; the other was gifted to us because we could not afford it in our budget.

If we could focus all of our at-risk funding (~$500K per year) on instructional supports with a direct tie to student achievement, we believe our school could make significant academic progress. Instead our at-risk funding is used to cover legally mandated special education (even though the majority of our at-risk population are not students in need of special education services) and other positions that should be covered under a base budget.

Lastly, transparency and other requirements related to at-risk funds should apply to all Local Education Agencies (LEAs) across both sectors to ensure all at-risk students are getting the supplemental support they need and deserve.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

[1] School budgets should be equally funded according to the comprehensive staffing model before at-risk funds are allocated. In Title 1, this is called “Title 1 neutral” and is guidance we follow every year. Instead, in DC it’s easy to tell which schools receive at-risk funds before they’ve been allocated. The budgets of schools with high percentages of at-risk students have holes in core staffing. DCPS then uses at-risk funds to fill these manufactured gaps. Large gaps in core staffing only exist at our schools most in need.