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School Improvement Plans

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education is committed to school improvement through partnering with local education agencies (LEAs) and the Public Charter School Board to target resources, supports, and interventions to the lowest performing schools and schools with the largest achievement gaps.

School Improvement under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Passed in Dec. 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) required the District of Columbia to develop a state plan that outlines how it will comply with key provisions in the law. DC’s State Education Plan under ESSA outlines a new accountability system, called the School Transparency and Reporting (STAR) accountability system. Like DC’s previous accountability system, the STAR system will provide an annual overall, summative rating for all public schools in the District that will be shared with families and the community through a school report card. Providing consistent and clear information about all schools will help meet the needs of families in the DC. Common reporting also allows us to learn from successful schools and provide supports to our struggling schools so we can help them improve. We believe this approach will ensure better outcomes for our students, by accelerating progress for those who are furthest behind.

In addition, ESSA requires that states identify schools for comprehensive support and improvement and targeted support and improvement. These school improvement designations will be calculated every three years for schools that fall below a particular threshold and will replace the current designations of Priority and Focus schools.

Plan for 2017-18 Transition Year

On May 3, 2017, DC’s proposed State Education Plan was submitted to the Department of Education (ED). In anticipation that states may not have an approved plan by the start of the 2017-18 school year, ED granted states more time to transition to ESSA and permitted states to delay identification of schools for comprehensive support and improvement, as well as schools with low-performing subgroups for targeted support and improvement, until the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.

For this reason, for the 2017-18 transition school year, the District will not change federal school classifications.  All schools will maintain their current classifications. Schools identified as Priority (lowest performing) are required to create and implement improvement plans aligned with seven research-based turnaround principles or evidence-based practices as defined under ESSA. Each school classified as Focus (largest achievement gaps) must develop and implement plans focused on closing the gap for identified subgroup(s) within specified subject area(s). Schools that were classified as Rising Priority and Rising Focus schools during the 2016-17 school year will maintain their classifications for the 2017-18 school year and must also develop a school improvement plan.

Priority and Focus School Requirements for 2017-18 Transition Year

All schools will maintain their current classifications and requirements. These requirements were also outlined in a letter from Superintendent Kang dated July 20, 2017.

Requirements during the 2017-18 school year Rising Priority and Rising Focus Schools Priority and Focus Schools
Develop a school improvement plan REQUIRED REQUIRED
ESEA Implementation Oversight/Monitoring by DCPS or PCSB NOT REQUIRED REQUIRED
Continued participation in Learning System (LSN) and SSIP Activities (as applicable) NOT REQUIRED REQUIRED
20% set-aside for Priority and Focus schools NOT REQUIRED NOT REQUIRED
1003 School Improvement Funding for Priority and Focus schools NOT ELIGIBLE ELIGIBLE*

*All schools that were eligible for the 1003(a) grant in the 2016-17 school year will continue to be eligible for the 1003 grant in the 2017-18 school year.

For questions regarding plans for schools operated by the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), please contact [email protected]. For questions regarding plans for charter schools, please your LEA or school. For questions about OSSE’s school planning requirements,  please contact Dr. Tiphanie Scroggins, management analyst, [email protected].

OSSE School Improvement Plan Resources

A school improvement plan is vital for school turnaround.  It is a comprehensive road map used to improve pedagogy and student learning through strategic planning and effective leadership. To support the turnaround efforts of Priority and Focus schools, OSSE has compiled the resources below for developing and refining improvement plans.


Understanding Evidence-Based Practices Webinar (August, 2017): This session provides participants with an overview of evidence-based practices informed by ESSA, offers resources for identifying appropriate practices, and provides an outline of the process for identifying evidence-based practices.

Effective School Improvement Planning Webinar (August, 2017): This session provides participants with an overview of school support and improvement activities outlined in ESSA and describes the process for organizing and developing school improvement plans.

School Improvement Plan Rubric: This is the rubric OSSE will use to review and provide recommendations on school improvement plans for Priority and Focus schools. Schools are encouraged to use this rubric as a guide as they develop their school improvement plans.

School Improvement Planning Guide: This guide is structured to be a hands-on resource for school teams as they develop strong improvement plans and processes to ensure continuous improvement.

School Improvement Planning Video Modules: These online video modules are aligned with OSSE’s School Improvement Planning Guide. These brief modules walk school teams through the elements of developing strong improvement plans and processes to ensure continuous improvement. 

  • School Planning Overview
  • Phase 1: Pre-planning
  • Phase 2: Setting Goals
  • Phase 3: Identifying and Prioritizing Strategies
  • Phase 4: Planning Your Strategies
  • Phase 5: Monitoring Progress

Professional Development: LEA Support Session (Nov. 18, 2015): The session provided LEA staff serving Priority and Focus schools an opportunity to learn new strategies vital to school improvement. These strategies will enhance their strategic planning to develop effective school improvement plans. Here's a recap of the event, including copies of all presentations and materials.

General Resources

School Turnaround Learning Community: The School Turnaround Learning Community (STLC), launched by US Department of Education to support School Improvement Grant (SIG) recipients and others undertaking rigorous interventions in their lowest performing schools provides research-based practices and practical examples from states, districts, and schools developing and implementing on-the-ground solutions.

What Works Clearinghouse: The What Works Clearinghouse is a resource provided by the US Department of Education that identifies studies that provide credible and reliable evidence of a given practice, program or policy and disseminates summary information and free reports to the public.

Regional Educational Laboratories (REL): Regional Educational Laboratories is a resource provided by the US Department of Education that conducts high quality studies in education and provides trainings to teachers to improve pedagogy and student learning.

The Education Resources Information Center (ERIC): The Education Resources Information Center is a resource provided by the US Department of Education that serves as an online catalog of education research literature.

School Turnaround Articles

Berman, S. H., & Camins, A. (2011). Investing in Turnaround That Endures. Education Week, 31(10), 28-22.

David, J. L. (2010). Drastic School Turnaround Strategies Are Risky. Educational Leadership, 68(2), 78-80.

Simmons, J. (2011). To Improve Schools, Stop Guessing and Start Using Research. Education Digest, 76(9), 37-39.

Sparks, S. D. (2012). Interplay of Strategies Seen as Key in Turnarounds. Education Week, 32(4), 10-11.

2017-18 Focus Schools

  • Achievement Preparatory Public Charter School-Elementary*
  • Bancroft Elementary School*
  • Bruce Monroe Elementary School at Park View*
  • Capital City Public Charter School – Lower School*
  • Capitol Hill Montessori School at Logan*
  • Excel Academy Public Charter School Dream
  • Friendship Public Charter School Woodridge Elementary*
  • Friendship Public Charter School  Collegiate Academy
  • Garrison Elementary School 
  • HD Cooke Elementary School*
  • Hart Middle School 
  • Kimball Elementary School*
  • King Elementary School*
  • Langley Education Center*
  • Miner Elementary School*
  • Noyes Education Center*
  • National Collegiate Preparatory Public Charter High School 
  • Payne Elementary School*
  • Richard Wright Public Charter School*
  • Seaton Elementary School*
  • Simon Elementary School
  • Smothers Elementary School 
  • Takoma Education Campus*
  • Tyler Elementary School*
  • Walker-Jones Education Campus 
  • Whittier Education Campus
  • Wilson High School*

2017-18 Priority Schools

  • Aiton Elementary School 
  • Amidon-Bowen Elementary School*
  • Anacostia High School 
  • Ballou High School 
  • Cardozo Education Campus 
  • CW Harris Elementary School*
  • Coolidge High School
  • Drew Elementary School*
  • Dunbar High School 
  • Friendship Public Charter School Blow Pierce Elementary
  • Garfield Elementary School*
  • HD Woodson High School 
  • Hendley Elementary School 
  • Houston Elementary School 
  • Johnson John Hayden Middle School 
  • Kramer Middle School 
  • Langdon Education Campus*
  • LaSalle-Backus Education Campus*
  • Luke C. Moore High School 
  • Malcolm X Elementary School at Green 
  • Maya Angelou Public Charter School – Evans High School 
  • Moten Elementary School 
  • Patterson Elementary School 
  • Roosevelt High School at MacFarland 
  • Savoy Elementary School 
  • Turner Elementary School
  • Washington Metropolitan High School

*Federal school classifications will not change in the 2017-18 school year. Following the 2015-16 school year, OSSE identified schools that demonstrated continued growth and would have been eligible to exit based on past years of progress and performance on PARCC as “Rising Priority” or “Rising Focus” in order to publicly recognize the progress they have made. These schools will maintain their classification.

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