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The District of Columbia’s state education plan was approved Wednesday evening by the State Board of Education (SBOE), State Superintendent Hanseul Kang announced today. The plan’s approval comes after more than a year of ongoing consultation with community groups and stakeholders. With SBOE’s approval, OSSE will now submit DC’s state education plan to the US Department of Education by the department’s April 3, 2017 deadline.
The state education plan, which is required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), outlines statewide plans for education in the District of Columbia. ESSA offers new flexibilities to states and opportunities for DC regarding supports for students and schools, teacher and leader training and evaluations, and statewide student assessment. DC’s plan includes these areas, and a major component addresses a common system for rating and reporting on all public and public charter schools in the District of Columbia.
“I’m pleased that the State Board of Education approved OSSE’s ESSA plan,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “I want to thank the State Board of Education members, residents from across the District, and other stakeholders who have shared their feedback and contributed to the development of this plan. The input we received over the course of this process made this plan even stronger. Now, it’s time to shift focus to implementation, so we can do the hard work of supporting the needs of our young people.”
In December 2015, President Barack Obama signed ESSA into law. The new legislation, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, builds on key areas of educational progress achieved in recent years with the intention of ensuring that all students have equitable access to a high-quality education.
“We want families to know that no matter what school their children attend – public or public charter – schools will be held accountable based on a common framework so they can make apples to apples comparisons as they make important decisions about the best school for their children’s needs,” said Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles. “This plan is a prime example of how we are thinking strategically about education in the District as a whole and not in silos. I am looking forward to even more thoughtful collaboration as we strive to boost achievement for all students, across all schools, and in all neighborhoods.”
Since December 2015, 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.
“The power of the new accountability system is having common information about our schools that provides clear information for parents and families, and will also form the foundation for a new level of collaboration among schools to improve outcomes for all our students, particularly those who need the most support,” State Superintendent Kang said.
In response to stakeholder feedback, the final plan includes several substantive changes. 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. Finally, all future substantive changes to the plan must be approved by the SBOE.
“Strong accountability leads to more students receiving a quality education,” DC Public Charter School Board Executive Director Scott Pearson said. “I support the state plan. It appropriately emphasizes student growth, academic achievement, transparency, and equity.”
The District of Columbia’s state education plan will be submitted to the US Department of Education by April 3, 2017. School ratings will be released in fall 2018 based on data collected in the 2017-18 school year.
“DC Public Schools believes in strong accountability, including measuring all schools on the PARCC assessment, so families and students have valuable information on how all schools are doing. We also believe it’s important to have a universal accountability system for DCPS and DC Public Charter Schools. The accountability system under consideration by the State Board of Education includes critical measures of achievement and school climate. We are pleased to see the changes that prioritize academic growth over academic status,” DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson said. “We support the current plan, and we recognize that a strong accountability plan will always require changes as we learn more over the coming years. The city must continue to stress the importance of school climate growth, including how schools address student discipline.”
To read DC’s state education plan and find more information on the development of the plan during the last year, visit OSSE’s ESSA webpage at OSSE.dc.gov/essa.