D.C. State Superintendent of Education to begin ranking charter schools

Last Wednesday evening, the State Board of Education approved D.C.’s education plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.  ESSA replaced No Child Left Behind in 2015 and under the new law this year each state and the District of Columbia must report to the U.S. Department of Education accountability measures for public schools.

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education has been working on this plan for 15 months.  According to the organization:

“OSSE participated in more than 70 meetings and gatherings on DC’s plan and received feedback and comments from more than 110 local education agencies (LEAs), government agencies, consortia, and other organizations in the District of Columbia. During the public comment period, which lasted from Jan. 30 to March 3, OSSE received more than 250 written comments on the state plan and shared the plan with families, educators and community groups during a series of community engagement sessions co-hosted with SBOE in each of DC’s eight wards. OSSE consolidated stakeholder feedback and incorporated it in the revised plan, which the State Board of Education approved Wednesday.”

Schools will be ranked on a five star system, similar to what the federal government currently does with hospitals, with a five being best.  It is a move emulating that of Denver, Colorado under its Denver District-Charter School Collaboration Compact in which both the charter and traditional school sectors are evaluated utilizing the same data.  Support for the evaluation system comes from Mayor Muriel Bowser, Deputy Mayor for Education Jennie Niles, State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang, DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson, and executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board Scott Pearson.

The Washington Post’s Alejandra Matos explains how schools will be judged:

“The bulk of the proposed D.C. rating formula is based on results from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career exams, or PARCC, which are linked to Common Core standards. For elementary and middle schools, the plan takes into account how many students met or exceeded academic standards as well as how much progress students made compared with the previous school year.

For high schools, the rating system will consider only proficiency on PARCC exams. The OSSE said it is working on getting baseline data for academic growth for high schools and will eventually include it in the rating system.”

State Superintendent of Education Kang fills in some of the details:

“The approved plan reduces the weight on testing for elementary and middle schools while prioritizing student growth. The final plan reduces the weight on academic achievement in the elementary and middle school frameworks from 40 percent to 30 percent, keeping the growth weight at 40 percent. Also in the elementary and middle school frameworks, OSSE increased the school environment domain by 10 percentage points from 15 percent of a school’s total score to 25 percent. The accountability system will also include a new measure for access and opportunities for the first time in the 2019-20 school year. The final plan commits to piloting school climate surveys and developing a high school growth measure for possible inclusion in the accountability system.”

Not known at this point is the future of the DC PCSB’s Performance Management Framework.  Since 2012, charters have been evaluated on a tiered system of one through three.  Mr. Pearson and deputy director Naomi Rubin DeVeaux when asked did not provide an answer.

Ashley Carter, At-Large Representative to the State Board of Education, had this to say about the scorecard:

“Today, I vote to approve the proposed DC state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act put forth by the DC Office of State Superintendent of Education.

The Every Student Succeeds Act, which was passed with bipartisan support in 2015, aimed at getting accountability right, especially in areas where No Child Left Behind failed.

I have spent the first three months of my term on the board working tirelessly learning the plan, engaging in public discussion around the city, and submitting questions regarding specific areas of the plan related to ratings, testing weight, and climate.

After listening to public, school, and expert input and testimony over the past several months the original draft plan was revised in several areas. This revised plan, put forth today, effectively combines views of the entire city. Our city is diverse, so are our schools and collaboration is essential to move forward with one plan for the various schools in our city. I believe this plan does that.”

School rankings under the new system will come out in the fall of 2018 utilizing information from the 2017 to 2018 school year.

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