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


Bike to School Day is May 8, 2019 @ Lincoln Park – Save the Date!


How to plan a fantastic party on wheels with all your school friends….

  • Step 1: Mark your Calendar –> May 8, 7:30-8:15 AM @ Lincoln Park.
  • Step 2: Register your school‘s event (or your participation in the Lincoln Park event)!!
  • Step 3: Tell all your friends about Steps 1 and 2!

Goodbye CHPSPO, hello CHPSPO? Help us find a new name – please vote!

We’ve outgrown Capitol Hill and we’re long overdue for a name that reflects our work in support of Ward 6 schools and all of the students enrolled in our schools (and across the city!). Help us by voting on the suggestions submitted by our community!


Betsy Wolf Testimony – OSSE Performance Oversight Hearing – February 21, 2019

There are few issues in education in DC right now that are as clearly problematic at the new OSSE school report cards and 5-star school ratings. For some background, I am a parent at Amidon-Bowen, but I am also an educational researcher who cleans and analyzes student achievement data as part of my day job.

The OSSE 5-star school ratings supposedly measure school quality, or how well schools are serving their students. But my analysis – and others’ – have shown that the 5-star school ratings are more strongly determined by which kids are in the schools than what the schools actually do to help students learn. Specifically, 64% of the variation in OSSE school ratings can be explained by student demographics alone. Let that sink in for a minute. We are rating schools on the basis of student demographics more so than school effectiveness.

If pressed, OSSE would respond (as they did in their report) by saying that once you control for the various STAR metrics, there is no relationship between student poverty and the school ratings. But that is a flawed argument because the school ratings are determined on the basis of the metrics. Metrics are ratings, they are one and the same. So if metrics are biased against high-poverty schools, then so are the ratings. This is not a matter of me, a member of the public, not understanding what OSSE is doing. This is a matter of OSSE leads not understanding the statistics behind the OSSE star ratings or the methodological implications of their decisions.

What are the implications of the star ratings? First, we’re giving low ratings to schools that serve predominantly at-risk and special education children, and we’re giving high ratings to schools that serve predominantly affluent children. Even though growth factors into a school’s overall score, we are still rating schools more so on student demographics than any other factors.

Second, with these school ratings, we’re telling principals and teachers whether they are doing a good job or not on, again, which students they serve. My advice to effective teachers in high-poverty schools shouldn’t be you’re doing a great job, ignore your state agency. OSSE should be on the front lines of identifying schools that are really moving the needle and making a difference for kids.

Third, we’re telling parents to steer away from the “bad” schools, you know the schools with too many at-risk and special education students. Better stick to the schools serving affluent children by moving into an expensive neighborhood or winning the lottery for a spot in one of the most sought-after charters serving more affluent students.

Fourth, and perhaps most problematic, is that schools with consistently low ratings will be threatened with take-over or closure, without any regard for to what extent these schools are helping kids learn or how students in these schools will fare in other places.

Let’s talk about the growth metrics that OSSE uses. The median growth percentile essentially compares achievement for students who start with the same score. But whose growth are we comparing against whose each year, and does that make sense? Median growth percentiles are also problematic because they may (a) fluctuate wildly from one year to the next and (b) are also correlated with student characteristics. It gets better – the creator of median growth percentiles specifically warned that median growth percentiles should not be used to determine school quality. So why are we going against the recommendations of the statistician who created the indicator in the first place?

How should school performance be gauged instead? We have to find valid measures that capture what schools actually do. Valid measures of growth, academic offerings and enrichment, and school climate. There are plenty of experts in this field who could help us get it right. And if the federal requirements are too restrictive, we can do what many states have already done and create an independent state accountability system instead.

This is really an exasperating issue if you understand the methodological problems. If you understand the stats behind this, and you are not speaking out either internally or externally, you are complicit in propping up a school system that further disadvantages our most disadvantaged children. Let’s not wait several years to fix it or discuss the unintended negative consequences of the new star ratings.

I’ll close by sharing several quotes from the feedback sessions that OSSE hosted about the new school report cards.

– “Do we have to use the stars? Do the stars simply reflect the economic status of students? Does this concern you?”

– “The proficiency and attendance measures reward schools with fewer students in poverty. This is not fair.”

– “At-risk demographics are a strong predictor of proficiency. We should do more to desegregate schools. The accountability system needs more growth, especially for low-proficiency schools.”

– “Proficiency is weighted too highly in the accountability system. Include higher weight on growth. Otherwise, schools have an incentive to push students out of the school.”

– “80% on PARCC proficiency and growth is too high. Add measures of social and emotional learning.”

– “Can growth be weighted higher than proficiency? Especially since we know that scores are strongly correlated to income?”

– “Have you tested the model on existing schools? Why not? That would enable us to see how this correlates to poverty.”

– “Think we should measure school environment/teacher quality/other things that are important.”

– “We should back map from what data we need to provide well-rounded measure of school quality. Don’t be scared about collecting new data if it’s the right data.”

– “Where is the focus on curriculum? How is a school supposed to know it’s important if you don’t even mention it?”

– “Why don’t you have a classroom observation measure for higher grades?”

– “We should use school climate surveys from students, teachers, parents, and administrators. Why was this measure rejected?”

– “There are more than 20 school climate surveys that the federal government have deemed valid. This is available.”

– “How is attendance a measure of school environment? I think that’s insufficient.”

– “Concern about how we will ensure kids are getting a well-rounded education when there’s such a strong focus on PARCC.”

– “Has there been consideration of including measures to encourage a well-rounded education?”

– “What about sports, arts, other subjects outside math/reading? Research shows enrichment, other offerings add to success of students academically.”

– “You should consider a rating in each different component of the school’s rating – not just one set of stars.”

– “We need to address core problems affecting students (hunger, suicide, poverty, trauma), not just make minor changes in accountability system.”

– “Why doesn’t high school system include growth?”

– “Why is there no growth metric in high school?”

– “Do you have mathematicians on your staff?”


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)


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.