[Ed. Note: The following is a message drafted by a group of school advocates, including me and Caryn Ernst, a fellow DCPS parent. Please pass it on.]
The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2016 (ESSA) gives states the opportunity to reduce the extreme weight on test scores to rank schools, which was the cornerstone of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. ESSA allows DC to select more meaningful measures of school success. If you care about what educational standards DC’s public schools will be held accountable to in the future, you MUST make your voice heard NOW!
DC’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is considering a school accountability proposal that sets standardized test scores at 80% of an elementary school’s overall rating, with the remaining 20% primarily on attendance and re-enrollment rates. This would give 0% weight to comprehensive school climate measures that are known to help schools improve. There is no credit for growth in high schools in this proposal.
Parents and teachers have urged OSSE and the State Board of Education (SBOE) to reduce the weight of test scores to the lowest percent legally allowed—around 55%. They testified that using standardized test scores as the dominant 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 system-wide.
ESSA regulations allow OSSE to submit an accountability plan by either April 3 or September 18, 2017, yet OSSE is trying to submit the plan by April 3. The rushed schedule UNDERMINES the ability of education stakeholders to collaborate on developing robust school accountability measures that can help schools improve, and would severely restrict the new school chancellor’s capacity to close the achievement gap.
IF THIS MATTERS TO YOU, TAKE ACTION BEFORE FEBRUARY 28:
1. CALL OR EMAIL OSSE Superintendent Hanseul Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-727-6436) to tell her to reduce the weight of test scores in school ratings and NOT to submit a proposal until September.
2. Attend OSSE’s meetings in February to give feedback on the 1-31-17 proposal (see here for more information).
3. CALL OR EMAIL your State Board of Education representative and urge them to demand a low weight for testing and insist on measures of a full and appropriate education. They must vote in favor of the proposal or it goes back for reconsideration.
Hansuel Kang, State Superintendent of Education, email@example.com, (202) 727-6436
State Board of Education Members:
At-large: Ashley Carter, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 1: Laura Wilson Phelan, email@example.com, (202) 421-4360
Ward 2: Jack Jacobson, vice president of the board, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 251-7644
Ward 3: Ruth Wattenberg, email@example.com, (202) 320-7884
Ward 4: Lannette Woodruff, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 271-8507
Ward 5: Mark Jones, email@example.com, (202) 304-7294
Ward 6: Joe Weedon, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 277-9410
Ward 7: Karen Williams, president of the board, email@example.com, (301) 641-1926
Ward 8: Markus Batchelor, firstname.lastname@example.org