Back-to-School 2018

Welcome back to a new school year!

In this newsletter you’ll find highlights of the good things going on in our schools and the latest education news from across the District, including updates on how DC students did on the standardized tests – PARCC – and the search for a new leader of DC Public Schools.

Bancroft_ribbon_front.jpgI’m delighted to share that all Ward 1 DCPS principals returned to their schools this year except at H.D. Cooke Elementary, where I am happy to welcome Principal Ryan Lam. Their hard work is paying off, with our elementary schools boasting some of the greatest test score improvements among schools across the city. See more about this below.

I wanted to highlight an education town hall for Ward 1 coming up on Monday, September 17 at 6:30 pm at Columbia Heights Education Campus hosted by councilmember Brianne Nadeau and including education chairman of the Council David Grosso and me. We’ll answer questions and hear your input on the twin searches going for DCPS chancellor and the Deputy Mayor for Education. I hope to see you there!

Finally, for those who have not yet heard, I am not seeking reelection to another term. Accordingly, this will be my second-to-last newsletter and the last before the election on November 6. I wanted to ensure you knew that three candidates (Jason AndreanCallie Kozlak, Emily Gasoi) are seeking to fill this seat. All three are terrific candidates and merit a close look to see who best matches the experience, voice and issues you would like to see in your next representative to the State Board of Education.

As always, it is my pleasure to serve you. Please reach out with your questions or ideas to



Photo above: City officials join Principal Mola in the ribbon-cutting at Bancroft Elementary!

Community News

Provide input into education system leadership search

As many of you know, the chancellor of DCPS and deputy mayor of education resigned last February. Since then, the DCPS has been run by interim chancellor Amanda Alexander, and Ahnna Smith has been serving as interim deputy mayor for education.  Under DC's system of mayoral control, the authority for naming a new chancellor resides with the mayor.  The mayor has named a committee to advise her on the selection, chaired by American University president Sylvia Burwell and former Ward 4 councilmember Charlene Drew Jarvis.  For background on the committee and its members, see this June article in the Washington Post and this one in City Paper.  This committee has been holding listening sessions around the city. They will hold one more Tuesday, September 11, at 6:30 p.m. at Brookland Middle School (1150 Michigan Avenue, NE / RSVP). The committee will also take input through an online survey, and a Facebook Live town hall.  For up-to-date information on the committee's work and the DCPS chancellor search, go to

To provide input directly to the councilmembers who will approve the chancellor nomination, here is another opportunity! Brianne_town_hall.pngCouncilmember Nadeau invites you to a Ward 1 town hall on the District’s search for DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor and Deputy Mayor for Education. The town hall will be held on MondaySeptember 17th at the Columbia Heights Education Campus at 3101 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20010. The event will begin at 6:30pm and run until 8:30pm.

Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, At-Large Councilmember and Education Committee Chairman David Grosso, and me, Ward 1 State Board of Education (SBOE) Member Laura Wilson Phelan, will speak, listen to your input, and answer questions.  Members of the Mayor’s Our Schools DC Leadership Committee have been invited to attend the town hall as well.

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to Aamir Mansoor at or Amanda Bonam at You can also call my office at (202) 724-8181. 


My School DC seeks representatives for its Parent Advisory Council

My School DC is recruiting parents and guardians for its Parent Advisory Council (PAC) for the upcoming lottery school year (2019-20). The PAC supports My School DC by providing guidance and feedback on the My School DC application process; providing input on programmatic direction for My School DC; acting as ambassadors of information to their respective communities; and advising the Common Lottery Board – My School DC’s governing body – on major policy decisions. Membership is voluntary, and meetings are held quarterly. Click HERE to view membership criteria and meeting schedule. My School DC is actively seeking representatives from wards 1-3 and 5-8. Know of a great parent rep? Complete the online application or forward the following link to a potential candidate: are due Sept. 14, 2018. Contact Aryan Bocquet, director of partnerships and engagement with My School DC, at or at (202) 727-9306 for more information.

Ward 1 Education Collaborative Happy Hour

Join us for another W1EC Happy Hour!! Share in some great conversations and meet other parents who share the same passion for their schools, kids, and community.

WHEN: Sunday, September 16th, 3:00PM- 5:00PM

WHERE: The Midlands, 3333 Georgia Avenue

Follow them on Twitter for more information and updates @ward1EdCollab

State Board News

DC’s 2018 PARCC Results Released

The 2017-18 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams results are out. Overall, the a.ward_1_chart_PARCaC.PNGpercentage of District students who are on track for the next grade level and to leave high school prepared for college and careers increased since last year. The full results can be found here. The site EmpowerK12 provides an easily-navigable way to view the results in almost any way desired. Additionally, here are the DCPS PARCC Resource and PCSB PARCC Resource links for sector-specific information.

Within Ward 1, there are some extraordinary improvements. Six (Bancroft ES, Banneker HS, Bruce-Monroe ES, HD Cooke ES, Marie Reed ES, and Tubman ES) of our ten traditional public schools boasted double-digit gains in math or English language arts (ELA). Overall, across Ward 1 schools, 6.5% and 4.5% more of our students performed at a proficient level, respectively in ELA and math, and in nearly every subject at every school there were improvements. These results are an incredible testament to the hard work of school staff, families and students.

Still, we have a very, very long way to go towards ensuring that all of our students perform at expected levels. For the first time since test scores have been publicly reported, the state (at the encouragement of the State Board) published results with an n-size of 10 (vs. 25, as it was in the past). This means that we can see how different smaller groups of students are performing. The differences are breath-taking and devastating. If we look at White students across all schools in our ward, for example, we see close to 50 percentage points’ difference. If we look at at-risk, which is a proxy for lower-income, we see 50-60 point differences. This means that nearly all of our White students are passing and prepared for the next grade, but less than a third of students who are Latinx, Black and/or lower-income, in special education, or English language learners are passing. As a city, and as a set of residents who I know care about these difference, we must work together to address these differences.

Some schools seems to be addressing differences very well. For example, at Bruce-Monroe, Black girls passed ELA at 63.6%! Far above their school’s and the city’s averages. At Cleveland, ELL students passed above the school average in ELA and math – the latter by 10 points higher! At HD Cooke, 40.7% of at-risk student population passed math – far higher than the 17% ward average for at-risk students. At Marie Reed, approximately half of their Latinx students are proficient in math and ELA – far higher than the 27% ward average. And at Bancroft 46.7% of their Black students are proficient in math – higher than the average for the school and more than double the ward average. Why is what we are doing working for some students but not all? How can we ensure all students thrive? I know these are the questions on the minds of many educators, and we hope that illuminating these differences helps educators to reach out to one another for ideas, as well as shines a spotlight on additional areas to improve so that we all may think about how we can be part of the solution.

All of this said, the PARCC results represent just one of several ways to measure student progress. Additional methods include a student’s report card grades, a student’s performance in the classroom, and feedback from a student’s teacher. As a city, we need to do more to develop well-rounded measures of student progress, and the ESSA Task Force (see below) is taking this up.


ESSA Task Force to Reconvene in September

The ESSA Task Force will reconvene on Tuesday, September 11. In the coming months, the State Board and OSSE will continue ESSA_TF.pngtheir work on the development of a statewide school report card that will contain information designed for students and parents to know more about schools in the District of Columbia. The report cards will not only provide information about test scores, but will also give a broader scope of metrics. The school report card is a dynamic tool that will be updated and modified as new information becomes available. You may find more info here.


High School Graduation Task Force Issues Recommendations, which SBOE adopts

DC_grad.pngIn May, the State Board unanimously passed the recommendations of its High School Graduation Requirements Task Force, which was chaired by my Ward 8 colleague, Markus Batchelor and me. The recommendations have moved forward to OSSE for consideration. OSSE will review the recommendations expressed in the report and will continue to work with the Board on policy changes that may stem from those recommendations. Task force members reached consensus on the following recommendations for the consideration of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to put forward into regulatory policy:

  • Create a personalized learning plan for each public school student in the District, and revisit this plan in elementary, middle, and high school to ensure the student is on track to graduate.
  • Provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate they have mastered course content for world language and mathematics in lieu of taking the course.
  • Reduce the number of required community service hours from 100 to 50.

Full minutes and information about the task force are published here

News from your Schools*

Columbia Height Education Campus

At the Columbia Heights Educational Campus it is time to welcome our wonderful students and families for School Year 2018-19!CHEC_Teachers_Prepare_for_SY18-19.JPG  In the past school year, CHEC has had a lot to celebrate, with some great accomplishments in Advanced Placement, SRI and I-Ready!  The CHEC teachers and administrators all feel rejuvenated and have experienced a full week of professional learning opportunities prior to school opening.  CHEC is focused on having strong start with students on Day One, and is ready to meet the unique needs of each student.

Our focus on empowering our young men and women of color will continue as we continue to build our capacity and cultural competence to be truly responsive educators.  CHEC will also build on the great success of Restorative Justice practices to foster a strong sense of community and responsibility.  CHEC is looking forward to a best ever School Year 2018-19!!

HD Cooke

Welcome to SY18-19. We are off to a great start. PARCC scores were released and we had some great gains. To view the scores visit:

We also welcomed Principal Ryan Lam who is very excited about leading the school. Ryan Lam began his career 8 years ago HD_Cooke.jpgteaching 1st grade and 4th grade math at Seaton Elementary School in 2010. From there, he moved into the role of a data coach and in 2015, Mr. Lam transitioned into becoming the assistant principal at Savoy Elementary School. Two years later he became the resident principal at Whittier Education Campus through the Mary Jane Patterson Fellowship where he designed and implemented a school entry plan. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Bridgewater College, and a master’s degree from Liberty University.​

​Photo: Prek back in action on their first day



Cleveland staff returned on August 13th to attend a wonderful retreat at Hard Bargain Farm in Acokeek, Maryland to build relationships and team build!  We had a successful retreat and team launch with all of our staff!


Photos caption: Garrison teachers show the power of PRACTICE in preparing their recess routines and writer’s workshop chops forGarrison.jpg Garrison2.jpgthe first week of school!

After a busy summer, Garrison is ready for a great school year!  Back to School highlights include:

  • The completion of our new turf field and PK playground (come play!)
  • Increased enrollment from last year, and the addition of talented new teachers
  • The launch of Conscious Discipline for social-emotional learning and Writer’s Workshop
  • The launch of a new family partnership with Kindred to build community and increase equity

Plus, our Wildcats’ PARCC 2018 scores increased in both Reading and Math, including an 8-point jump in the passing rate for Math!

Please join us for these upcoming events at Garrison:

  • Back to School Night: Wed, 9/12 5:30pm (new/prospective families welcome!)


art_speech_bancroft.jpgBancroft is excited to return to its neighborhood with a beautiful school building! Students and staff have been admiring the artwork and enjoying this incredible environment for learning. We were delighted to host Mayor Bowser, Councilmember David Grosso, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and State Board of Education Member Laura Wilson Phelan at our ribbon-cutting and the citywide release of the PARCC scores in August. Bancroft is on the rise with an 11.5% point gain in math and 7.5% point gain in English language arts!



Tubman is super excited to start the year and continue our growth! We will see you on August 20! Tubman has lots of improvements on our playground and in our building we are eager to share! If you haven’t scheduled your home visit yet you can do that too on day 1!  Welcome back families! 

Oyster Adams

At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, 25 of our Oyster-Adams 8th grade students took the Spanish Advanced Placement exam.  We just received their scores and learned that 96% of them passed!  Seven of the students, who were Oyster-Adams Tigers since PK4 or K, received a 5, the highest score!  We are proud to celebrate the hard work of our Oyster Adams students and excited to send our bilingual graduates off to high school with college credit!

*I have included news from schools who submitted information to me. All Ward 1 DCPS schools are invited to submit information.

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