Status

Caryn Ernst Testimony – OSSE Performance Oversight – Feb 14, 2017

Thank you for holding this hearing and for the opportunity to weigh in on OSSE’s work to develop new school accountability measures under ESSA. OSSE has an important opportunity to shape a stronger accountability and school support system through the new federal ESSA law that will drive what our students learn and how and where they are taught for the next ten years.

OSSE’s current proposal, which keeps test scores at 80% of a school’s rating will repeat many of the same failures and negative impacts of NCLB, which over the last ten years did nothing to close the achievement gap and arguably has led to greater segregation of our schools and a narrowing of our children’s academic opportunities.  

I urge OSSE to not rush into a final plan by April 3rd, and instead to wait until the second submission window in September, and I urge OSSE to use ESSA’s flexibility to create school “Dashboards” rather than “Ratings.”

Submit Accountability Proposal in September, not April

Three critical reasons to submit proposal in September:

  1.  Take the time to gain maximum engagement from parents, educators and other stakeholders. Parents are just beginning to understand the draft plan and its impact and want more opportunity to discuss and give input to the plan. This plan is complicated and there needs to be robust discussion of its potential impacts.
  2. Take the time to work with a variety of experts on various aspects of the plan from what is best for English language learners (ELs) and students with disabilities to what are the best indicators of school success in addition to testing that are valid, reliable and can be disaggregated and differentiated.
  3. Give Chancellor Wilson an authentic opportunity to weigh in. It is unreasonable that Chancellor Wilson will not have a significant hand in shaping the new plan that he will be responsible for implementing for 49,000 students. We parents will hold him accountable for DCPS’s success. He deserves the chance to have a say in how it will be judged. OSSE released its draft plan just as the Chancellor came on board and it will be final just two months later. Chancellor Wilson needs time to understand and hear from DCPS’s 109 school leaders and educators, 8 ward education councils, numerous nonprofit partners, and tens of thousands of parents.

It is unconscionable that OSSE drafted this plan in the Chancellor’s absence and then is aiming to finish it within the first two months of his tenure. DC charter school leaders have had time to engage their stakeholders, gather experts and weigh in with OSSE since ESSA was signed in December of 2015 – over a year ago. To argue that our new DCPS Chancellor has to make the same commitments to a new system in only two months is wrong.

Use ESSA Flexibility to Create School “Dashboard” rather than “Rating”  

The ESSA legislation gives states the flexibility to create a school Dashboard, instead of, or in addition to, a school Rating. A Dashboard would present a few categories of data on each school, such as growth, proficiency, reenrollment and graduation rates, without trying to combine those categories into a final “Score” or “Rating” for each school.  

When high level data is combined to create a single rating, it obfuscates the real data behind a made up number that reflects more the percentage weight given to each data point, rather than the value of the data itself.  

The types of data collected and shared publicly under ESSA guidelines is important to guide school improvement efforts and to inform parents’ school choices. When data is combined into a final score it becomes almost meaningless for both of these purposes.  

If there is a legislative requirement to combine them into a final score, that score should only be used for federal legislative purposes, while the Dashboard of data should be used to share data with the public about school quality.

Robust, verifiable and reliable data that’s made publicly available for ALL schools on a wide-range of school performance measures would give parents, teachers, students and school leaders the shared data they need to collaborate effectively on school improvement.

The types of data that needs to be collected and made publicly available under ESSA, includes:

  1. Robust school climate assessments that provide actionable data and are administered to students, teachers and parents, like the Cal State Assessment Instrument.
  2. Teacher turnover rates and percent of teachers considered highly effective.
  3. Percent of students that leave mid-year, as well as reenrollment rates for the school.
  4. Attendance rates for both students and teachers.
  5. Number of expulsions and suspensions.
  6. Measures that would indicate the quality of science and social studies instruction, particularly in middle and high school, and
  7. List of electives and after school activities to which all students have access.

Most schools are already tracking this information in some way, it just isn’t tracked consistently or reliably and the data isn’t shared publicly. 

Taking a Dashboard approach to public education data would take the politics out of discussion of what data point has more or less meaning, and would enable an honest look at the quality and content of the education offered at ALL schools in DC.  

 ——

OSSE Performance Oversight

Every Student Succeeds Act – School Accountability Measures

February 14, 2017

Testimony by Caryn Ernst 

Parent at School Without Walls and Capitol Hill Cluster School

Status

Helena Smolich Testimony – OSSE Performance Oversight – Feb 14, 2017

Good afternoon and thank you for hearing my testimony.  

I’m Helena Smolich, a parent at CHM@L, and a Ward 6 resident. OSSE is set to submit its new Education Plan to the Department of Education on April 3rd, 2017. The period for public comment and community meetings will close by March 3rd. If meaningful input is the goal, which it should be, I believe April 3rd is not sufficient time to gather and review fully the views of the community. I urge OSSE to postpone the submission and give some more thought and time to complete a comprehensive plan, designed to set our students up for success. Two overarching goals of the new Education plan are for DC to “become the fastest improving state and city in the nation in student achievement outcomes; and to ensure greater equity in outcomes for our students, by accelerating progress for those who are furthest behind”. While both are worthy, I wonder if these goals are in step with the larger context of our city. It’s generally acknowledged that academic outcomes are closely related to economic circumstances. So, from that perspective, is DC aiming to achieve the same kind of economic growth; to reduce and eliminate poverty and homelessness in our city, thusly facilitating academic growth of our students? In absence of such coordinated efforts, the new education plan could put unfair pressure on our teachers and students to treat the symptom, rather then the cause. 

Proposed accountability measure is composed of 80% standardized test scores, 15% school environment, and 5% English language proficiency (for K-8 grades). The school environment includes attendance, in-seat attendance, and re-enrollment. Is standardized test score the most important measure of school’s success? My family lives half a block from Brent Elementary, a highly coveted elementary school in ward 6. Rather then enrolling my sons at Brent, we make a trek across the Hill to CHM@L. And I can tell you, it is not because of the test scores. I worry that with this great emphasis on test scores, our schools will become corporatized, overly focused on their quarterly financial statements, and making the numbers look good, so to speak.  

There are so many aspects of what makes a school a good school, which could be quantified and used for overall school grade. Student satisfaction, parent satisfaction, teacher satisfaction, teacher turnover, teacher education level, expulsion rates, reported incidences of bullying (and the reduction of the same), even the number of students on the wait list can be an indicator of the school quality. None of these are part of the proposed accountability measure. 

I would like to end by reading a post from the list serve I belong to, that reflects a thought process of a parent entering the school system for the first time: “I’m curious about folks’ thoughts on some of the charter or public schools in our area that do not seem to have as high of demand ….For example, [Kipp Connect PCS] seems to be rated very highly per the Charter School Board system, but it had only a single digit waitlist. “ Is this a good school? I don’t know, but I do know parents look for far more then test scores when deciding on their children’s education. 

Thank you for your time. 

———

Testimony of Helena Smolich 

Parent at Capitol Hill Montessori @ Logan OSSE Performance Oversight Hearing

Committee on Education 

February 14, 2017  

Status

Danica Petroshius Testimony – OSSE Performance Oversight – Feb 14, 2017

Thank you for holding this important hearing. I’m Danica Petroshius, parent of two at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan (CHML), LSAT committee member, and a Ward 6 resident.  

As you all know, OSSE has an important opportunity to shape a stronger, more modern accountability and support system through the new federal ESSA law.  

The risk is that the new plan will define and drive our school accountability and support system for the next 10 years, at least. We know that major federal education laws take ten years or more on average to overhaul. While the federal Department of Education may allow some adjustments and changes to DC’s plan during the next 10 years, the bulk of the plan will stay the same until the ESSA law changes.   

To ensure that the ESSA opportunity outweighs the risk, we should not rush into a final plan by April 3rd; we should wait until the second submission window in September for three critical reasons: 

  1. Take the time to gain maximum engagement from parents, educators and other stakeholders. Parents in my community are just beginning to understand the draft plan and its impact. They want to attend the outreach sessions and then go back again for more discussion and input because this plan is complicated and has direct impact on our kids, teachers and schools. 
  2. Take the time to work with a variety of experts on various aspects of the plan from what is best for English language learners (ELs) and students with disabilities to what are the best indicators of school success, in addition to testing, that are valid, reliable and can be disaggregated and differentiated. 
  3. Give Chancellor Wilson an authentic, community-based opportunity to weigh in. It is unreasonable that Chancellor Wilson will not have time to get to know our school communities and use that new information to help shape a plan that he will implement for all 49,000 students. OSSE released its draft plan just as the Chancellor came on board and it will be final just two months later. Chancellor Wilson needs more time to understand and hear from DCPS’s 109 school leaders and educators, 8 ward education councils, numerous nonprofit partners, and tens of thousands of parents. We parents will hold the Chancellor accountable for DCPS’s success; he should have time to work with us before weighing in. DC charter school leaders have had time to engage their stakeholders, gather experts and weigh in with OSSE since ESSA was signed in December 2015 – over a year ago. To argue that our new DCPS Chancellor has to make the same commitments to a new system and a new community in only two months is wrong.  

OSSE may argue that by waiting until September, we are delaying a better system for kids. The reality is that whether a state applies in April or September, the 17-18 school year is a planning and transition year. Either way, the 18-19 school year is when the new plans begin to really take hold.  

We as a city must give ourselves time to get this right and ensure stakeholder buy-in so that there is widespread commitment to its success. This is a plan that will drive how my children and many others are educated and supported, their teachers valued and their schools judged though their high school graduation day. We should be willing to wait a few months to make sure the next 10 years are the best they can be. 
———–

Testimony of Danica Petroshius 

OSSE Oversight Hearing in the Committee on Education 

February 14, 2017  

Status

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.

—–

Testimony

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

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, hanseul.kang@dc.gov, (202) 727-6436

State Board of Education Members: At-large – Ashley Carter ashley.carter@dc.gov

Ward 1 – Laura Wilson Phelan, laura.wilson.phelan@dc.gov, (202) 421-4360

Ward 2 – Jack Jacobson, Chair of the Board jack.jacobson@dc.gov, (202) 251-7644

Ward 3 – Ruth Wattenberg ruth.wattenberg@dc.gov, (202) 320-7884

Ward 4 – Lannette Woodruff lannette.woodruff@dc.gov

Ward 5 – Mark Jones mark.jones@dc.gov, (202) 304-7294

Ward 6 – Joe Weedon joe.weedon@dc.gov, (202) 277-9410

Ward 7 – Karen Williams, Vice President of Board karen.williams5@dc.gov, (301) 641-1926

Ward 8 – Markus Batchelor markus.batchelor@dc.gov

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.

Public Hearing with Mayor, DME, OSSE: FY 2016 Budget for Public Schools in the District of Columbia

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE MAYOR

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

Fiscal Year 2016 Budget for Public Schools in the District of Columbia

Monday March 16, 2016
6:00 pm – 7:30pm
Columbia Heights Education Campus
3101 16th St., NW

Washington, DC 20010

Mayor Muriel Bowser, Deputy Mayor for Education, Jennifer Nile, and Acting State Superintendent of Education, Amy Maisterra, will hold a public hearing on the Fiscal Year 2016 budget for public schools. The hearing will be held on Monday, March 16, 2015 from 6:00 pm to 7:30pm at Columbia Heights Education Campus, 3103 16th St., NW, Washington, DC 20010.

The purpose of the hearing is to solicit the views of the public on levels of public funding to be sought in the FY 2016 operating budget for public schools in the District of Columbia, pursuant to the District of Columbia Official Code § 38-917.

Members of the public are invited to testify. Testimony is limited to three minutes per witness and five minutes per organization or group. Those wishing to testify should contact Tara Lynch in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education via email at tara.lynch@dc.gov or by telephone at (202) 727-3636 by 4 pm on Thursday, March 12, 2015. Witnesses should bring three (3) copies of their written testimony to the hearing.

Members of the public may submit written testimony, which will be made part of the official record. Copies of written statements should be submitted to the contact listed above no later than 4 pm on Thursday, March 12, 2015.

If members of the public need interpretation services, please contact Mrs. Lynch to arrange services for the hearing.

————————————————————————————–

CHPSPO Meeting Notes – February 17, 2015

February 17, 2015,  6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

  1. Extension of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility Waiver, OSSE

Learn more about the waiver here.

  • By end of March, DC needs to submit updated ESEA flexibility waiver
  • The substantive updates in this draft application include:
    • DC’s transition to the Next Generation Assessments (NGAs);
    • Increased flexibility to take high school level courses in middle school;
    • Updated language related to OSSE’s State System of Support (SSOS);
    • A requested pause in school classification during the assessment transition; and
    • A proposed pause in the use of state assessment growth data for teacher evaluations.
  • Opportunity to influence:
    • Role of Assessments, how much we are assessing students
    • Accountability plans
      • Types of resources schools should get vis a vis school rankings
    • Role of IMPACT
  • End of summer, vote for new accountability framework
  • OSSE committed to have meaningful public engagement
  • OSSE’s support of students w/ disabilities (who qualify for any sort of IEP)
  • OSSE will ask teachers/Principals these types of Qs
  • Grants avail through this process for research
  1. Upcoming Committee on Education Performance Oversight Hearings – Schedule here.

ACTION: Encourage families to attend working groups and hearings.

  • Questions to consider:
    • Too much testing??
    • How are teachers being evaluated? Are they being evaluated fairly? How do we get the best teachers in our schools and keep them?
    • How are students with disabilities being supported?
    • What was impact of the Proving What’s Possible/Student Satisfaction funding?
    • Is the at-risk funding truly following the at-risk students?
    • How is DCPS marketing its schools? How are the feeder patterns being promoted?  How are 4th graders being engaged at the middle schools?  Charter schools are out-marketing DCPS with fact sheets and open houses.
    • Have assessments been done on impact of ½ time foreign language teachers in elementary schools?
  1. Possible CHPSPO/ANCs meeting with Deputy Mayor for Education to discuss education issues from our community’s perspective.
  • Will reach out to ANCs to find dates. Sandra will contact 6b, Marty 6d, and Joe 6e.
  • Modernization of our middle schools is an issue to discuss with the DME.
  1. Libraries update by Peter Macpherson

Next CHPSPO Meeting:  March 17, 2015

Upcoming Events

 

February 21     10 to 11:30 am, Stuart Hobson Middle School, 410 E Street NE. 

Meeting hosted by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education on the role of testing in our schools, how to close achievement gaps, and how to improve the quality of instruction for all students. This conversation is designed to get the public’s input on important topics in advance of the State Board of Education voting in March on a waiver to the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly known as No Child Left Behind.

March 7           SWS Auction

March 13         Cluster Rocks Auction

March 14         Alchemy of Great Taste, Tyler Fundraiser

March 28         Maury at the Market

April 11           Anacostia Fish Bike Festival

May 6              Bike to School Day

May 17            Capitol Hill Classic

Upcoming Committee on Education Performance Oversight Hearings on FY 14/15

Wednesday, 2/18/2015, 10:00am, Room 123

  • Public Charter School Board
  • Bullying Prevention Taskforce
  • Healthy Youth and Schools Commission

Thursday, 2/19/2015, 10:00am, Room 412

  • District of Columbia Public Schools (Public Witnesses Only)

Tuesday, 2/24/2015, 10:00am, Room 500

  • District of Columbia Public Schools (Government Witnesses Only)

Thursday, 3/5/2015, 10:00am, Room 412

  • Office of the State Superintendent of Education
  • State Board of Education

Tuesday, 3/10/2015, 10:00am, Room 123

  • Deputy Mayor for Education
  • District of Columbia Public Library System

Persons wishing to testify about the performance of any of the foregoing agencies may contact: Christina Henderson, chenderson@dccouncil.us, or by calling 202-724-8191.