Let’s Talk DC Public School Data: March 29

Even though a data warehouse for all DC public schools was supposed to have been under way by December 2015–per the report last year on mayoral control of schools (the PERAA report) and promises to the council (see especially page 15)– our education leaders (including the deputy mayor for education, DCPS’s chancellor, council member David Grosso, and the director of the charter board) appear to be currently at the talking stage of its (PERAA-mandated) completion this fall.

On Tuesday, March 29, you can add your voice to this conversation and listen to theirs, by participating in a conference held by the Urban Institute, in conjunction with the group that authored the PERAA report, the National Academy of Sciences.

As the Urban Institute link above notes, the conference “will bring together policymakers, practitioners, parents, and nonprofit service providers to discuss the next generation of education data and research in Washington, DC.”

Great idea–but not clear how many parents will be able to attend a conference held during the day and during DCPS’s (and who knows how many charter schools’?) spring break.

At least it’s a start toward a system of the sort the council Education Committee envisioned in its report, like this snapshot from page 15:

“The Committee on Education supports the . . . recommendation that the District of Columbia create a centralized data warehouse that makes basic information about the school system available. While some may point to the LearnDC website as a suitable alternative to a data warehouse, the fact is that LearnDC is not designed to allow for comparison or an aggregated look at what is happening across the sectors. At the time of this report, individuals cannot even print in a readable format from the LearnDC website. Data warehouses make data sets available.”

Hear, hear!

[Oooh, confidential to those who CAN attend: you might share a few ideas on what a truly public education warehouse would include (courtesy of retired teacher Erich Martel):

–All charter and DCPS high school ACT, SAT, PSAT, and AP results.
–All LEAs’ average raw and scaled scores for PARCC tests (hey, what’s good for the Walton Family Foundation is good for us DC citizens who pay for it! After all, our city has provided those scores for a decade to that private group. See here for more information.)
–All budget, salary, staffing, and certification information (the PERAA report begged off on examining teacher training and certification for DC charter schools, noting it simply was not available–but I’m pretty sure nearly half of DC’s public school families would appreciate knowing how qualified their teachers are).
–Annual audits for LEAs whose principals or operators have discretionary authority, including hiring, school bank deposits, integrity of student grades, and graduation information. (Might help with that charter fiscal transparency thing.)

And since all our city education leaders may be present at this conference, you might also want to ask about ensuring that all future studies be funded by public funds, not private ones. (It’s just that pesky notion about keeping the public in public schools.)]

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