Back to School

vanness.jpgeliot-hine_2.jpgeliot-hine.jpgThe week before school began, I toured many of our Ward 6 schools with Councilmember Allen and was impressed by the work that was done to transform several of our neighborhood’s schools. We’ve seen remarkable progress in our school facilities – new windows at Watkins ES (the beginning of a multi-year renovation), the opening of Van Ness ES, the 2nd phase of the renovation at Payne ES, and the completion of the modernization at Stuart-Hobson MS among other projects. I was most pleased to see work begin on the addition of science labs at Eliot-Hine MS and hope to see completed labs and new furniture at both Eliot-Hine and Jefferson Academy MS later this fall. Nevertheless, we still have a long way to go to ensure all our school facilities - especially our middle schools - meet the needs of our students and I will continue that fight and encourage you to continue to speak out on behalf of our #Ward6 schools.

As our city’s school age population continues to grow, we are excited to welcome several new schools to our community. Here in Ward 6, we saw the re-opening of Van Ness ES, which is serving early ed through Kindergarten students this year, as well as three new charter schools: Monument Academy, a residential boarding school for children who have experienced stress and trauma; Washington Global, a middle school with an international and research-based academic focus; and Kingsman Academy, a school for students who are over-age and behind in credits. I hope you'll join me in welcoming them to the neighborhood.


SBOE Back to School Photo Contest.

back_to_school.jpgHave you captured a great D.C. school moment? Submit your favorite photo (my entry is to the left) to the State Board of Education’s #‎BackToSchool photo contest with your first name, school, and photo location to sboe@dc.gov. The winning entry will be featured on their Facebook page.

Upcoming Events

ANC6A will host an education forum with our local public schools, Councilmember Allen and myself at their monthly meeting on Thursday, September 10, at 7 pm, at Miner Elementary (601 15th St NE). Principals and parent leaders from our community schools, including Eliot-Hine, Maury, Miner, SWS, Ludlow-Taylor, and Eastern will be present to participate in this community conversation. This is a great opportunity for our schools to share about their programs and areas that we as a community can assist them. I hope to see you there.


Eastern Senior High School Community Health Fair. Eastern’s Health & Medical Sciences Academy, in partnership with AmeriHealth, is hosting a community health fair on Saturday, September 13th from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm.  Stop by to learn more about the HMSA program at Eastern and to take part in free health screenings, exercise demonstrations, face painting and many other activities.


Update from the State Board of Education.

High School Credit Flexibility Task Force. This Task Force, which will ultimately make a recommendation to the State Board, is considering whether there are circumstances under which students should be able to earn high school credit (known as a “Carnegie” unit) for activities other than semester and year-long courses that provide a required number of instructional hours (ie, seat time). This could allow sensible changes to allow students to earn credit for demonstrating proficiency in a given field of study. It could also open the door to lower standards and exacerbate inequities across the District. For more details on the Task Force, its objectives and its upcoming meetings, click here or read about the effort in the Post.

High School Diplomas for High School Equivalency Recipients. The State Board will be considering whether recipients of the GED and another high school equivalency test, the NEDP, should be awarded DC high school diplomas. The Board will be looking at many aspects of the debate surrounding this issues, including the rigor of the new GED standards and the benefits to GED recipients.  For more information, click here

Update on the PARCC Test Results. PARCC is in the final phase of determining the scoring standards for the 2015 tests. last year’s tests. Over the past several months, educators from across the country have come together to develop recommendations for the “cut scores” – that is how many score points students must receive in order to reach each level (5,4,3,2,1). Based on what I have heard about the tests and the scoring, the city should be prepared for scores to be lower than what students received when compared to the DC-CAS, the District’s previous test. However, we should bear in mind that the scores across the two tests are not meant to measure the same thing. Under DC-CAS, the key score point was “proficient,” with students also able to earn scores above and below that (a more direct comparison with DC-CAS was the NAEP which consistently ranked a much lower percentage of District students proficient than did DC-CAS). With PARCC, the key question is:  Is this student on-track to “likely” enter college without having to take remedial, non-credit-bearing courses. Going forward, PARCC will be following its students and adjusting the scoring thresholds based on evidence of how students actually fared in college and the workplace. For more on PARCC and its scoring, go to PARCConline.org.

 

Get InvolvedOpportunities to participate

Collaboration between DCPS and Charters. The Deputy Mayor is forming a task force aimed at improving collaboration between DCPS and charters.  For more information or to apply, click here.

Student Advisory Committee. The State Board of Education is establishing a student advisory committee. The committee will have student representatives from across the District. If you know of a student who is interested in applying, click here.

 

Other News & Updates

Free Metro for students going to and from school/school events.  If you’re not already aware: Starting this school year, students can ride the Metro to and from school and school events for free through your student’s DC One Card. To sign up for the DC One Card or to sign the card up for the free fare, click here.
 
What we need to know about DC schools—and don’t. My colleague from Ward 3, Ruth Wattenberg, penned an op-Ed that appeared in the Washington Post about concerns that I share about our school systems. Budget transparency is minimal, there is limited public input into budgets and even less accountability for how our education dollars are spent. There's no public reporting of teacher or principal turn-over around the city (though anecdotes suggest it is very high, especially in high-poverty schools). We hear conflicting reports about how much testing there is and whether it is eroding the science, history-social studies, and arts curriculum. And, while city leaders report great gains in student achievement, I still have doubts about the data and there is no argument that sizable achievement gaps remain. A recent report commissioned by the DC Auditor and conducted by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences details many of the problems with our systems of oversight and governance of our schools. I encourage you to take a look.

 

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