Back to School!
Welcome back to all students and families who have begun the new year! There are many changes underway with the resignation of Chancellor Henderson (see below) and our own Ward 1 schools undergoing transitions. Bancroft and Marie Reed students are at transitional campuses as their buildings are modernized, and HD Cooke students are piloting year-round school.
As you'll see from the updates below, educators worked hard over the summer to ensure students were welcomed and engaged on Day 1 of the new year. All 11 Ward 1 DCPS principals (including our just over-the-border neighbor, Garrison) returned this year, demonstrating their enduring commitment and leadership for our students.
As many of you are aware, DC's standardized exam (PARCC) results have been released, and, overall, the District's scores improved. I've included an update and links to data below.
I'm looking forward to working with you in the year ahead!
The Deputy Mayor for Education is leading the search for a new chancellor and is seeking community input into the search. There are two remaining community fora and a website (dcpsrising.dc.gov) where you can stay up-to-date on the search. Please see details below.
Wednesday, September 7
6:30 pm - 8 pm
Eastern High School – 1700 East Capitol St NE
(nearest metro station: Stadium Armory)
Wednesday, September 14
6:30 pm -8 pm
Savoy Elementary School – 2400 Shannon PL SE
(nearest metro station: Anacostia)
As you likely know, DC’s standardized exam (PARCC) scores were released last week. All Ward 1 schools demonstrated overall school gains in at least one of the tested subjects (math or English), and several demonstrated double-digit gains. While standardized tests represent only one measure of school performance, kudos to the students, families and educators at Marie Reed, Bancroft, Banneker, and HD Cooke schools for their hard work in earning these significant improvements.
While the gains are a cause for celebration, the overarching performance of DC students on the PARCC is a sobering reminder of just how much more we need to do as a city to ensure all students are learning the core skills to pursue either college or career options after graduation. Overall, the city’s results improved by 2 points in English and 3 points in math. However, the gaps by race and socioeconomic status remain huge. Black, Hispanic and white student proficiency rates in English were 19%, 25% and 74%, respectively. Economically disadvantaged and at-risk student proficiency rates were 18% and 13%, respectively. Math scores followed the same trends. These gaps demonstrate tremendous work to do to ensure equitable outcomes for students. For access to all of the data and an overview presentation, please go to the website of the Office of the State Superintendent here: http://osse.dc.gov/parcc/2016results. I have narrowed down the data to a Ward 1 snapshot that you can find here.
My School DC Parent Advisory Council
My School DC – the common application and common public school lottery for DC Public Schools (DCPS) and participating public charter schools – is recruiting for its Parent Advisory Council (PAC) for lottery school year 2017-18! In order to ensure My School DC is a valuable resource to families, it is critical that we engage parents throughout the planning and development process. The PAC supports My School DC by providing guidance and feedback on the My School DC application process, targeted outreach strategies and overall messaging. PAC members act as ambassadors of information to their respective communities. The PAC also advises and provides a parent perspective to the Common Lottery Board – My School DC’s governing body – on major policy decisions. My School DC seeks diverse representation for the PAC to include (at minimum) one representative from each ward of the District. Participation in PAC is voluntary and meetings are held quarterly in the evenings. For additional information and the schedule of meetings, please refer to the attachment and contact Aryan Bocquet, Parent Engagement Manager with My School DC, at (202) 727-9306 or at Aryan.Bocquet@dc.gov.
You can access the application here https://goo.gl/forms/jvkKvfcVpUz4pFpP2.
State Board News
High School Credit Flexibility Update
As you may recall, in March the State Board passed a new way for students to earn high school credit. Per prior posts, I chaired the city-wide task force that explored pathways to high school credit and came up with proposals for the Office of the State Superintendent's (OSSE) consideration. The regulations provide a pathway for schools to apply for approval to create "competency-based" courses, which would require that students demonstrate thorough understanding of key academic standards before moving on to new content in a course. The intent behind these changes is to allow students to progress through academic material and receive credit for what they can demonstrate they know instead of awarding credit based on class attendance and a score of 60 percent or higher. This approach would open opportunities to earn credit for learning beyond the four walls classroom and meet the diverse learning styles of our students.
I'm pleased to share that OSSE has now released the guidelines for schools to use this new learning pathway with students. Information about the guidelines may be found here. http://osse.dc.gov/page/credit-flexibility-%E2%80%93-waiver-award-competency-based-units.
Accountability Law Discussions
The State Board continues to consider changes to school "report cards" -- the information you can find about schools on sites like LearnDC -- as part of the new federal education law, the Every Child Succeeds Act. So far, the Board has held community meetings in every ward to collect public input. If you weren't able to make it to one of those meetings, but would like to weigh in on the information you think we should be tracking about each school in the District, you may fill out the survey. Please find the links below.
English - http://goo.gl/forms/u0H6CdMf2P
Spanish - http://goo.gl/forms/tFe4suyZpw
Amharic - http://goo.gl/forms/qws9jpafuc
Board is just beginning to review graduation requirements for all students, and there will be plenty of opportunity to weigh in. If this topic interests you, please reach out to me so that I can be sure to include you in discussions.
Diversifying, augmenting and balancing parent voice
I am launching a new effort to diversify, augment and balance parent voice in education discussions and decisions across the city. I am looking at changing the way meetings are held, their location and the types communications used, among other topics. I would welcome your thoughts on this topic! Stay tuned for more as this plan evolves and takes shape.
News from your Schools!*
Bancroft Starts a New Era at Sharpe Health in the Petworth community…
Students and parents alike are excited about the swing space at Sharpe Health for Bancroft students, as their old building undergoes a two-year modernization period. With the surrounding Upshur park playground spaces, and a building that has gone through a deep cleaning, teachers and students are finding a way to make the most of it. Two of the biggest celebrations at Bancroft in the midst of all of these changes is that the school retained 93% of its staff, and 99% of its students! We are overwhelmingly proving that Bancroft is not only a great place to work, but a great place to send your child to learn. The Bancroft learning community is scheduled to return to their original location and a newly renovated building in Mt. Pleasant for the start of the 2018-2019 school year. Bancroft will be sure to pave its own course by that time as one of the top schools in all of D.C. We hope you will be a part of it.
Restorative Justice at Bancroft Helps Reduce Suspensions and Serious Incidents by over 70%...
In the 2015-2016 school year, Bancroft staff worked hard to reduce the total number of suspensions, and total number of days lost due to suspensions. Bancroft was able to reduce the number of suspensions by 71% (from 35 to 10), and number of days lost due to suspensions by 82% (from 73 to 13). This was all a grand effort by the Bancroft administration and teachers that supported the introduction of a behavior system that is quickly becoming popular and effective throughout the United States – Restorative Justice. Students undergo meaningful interventions to address the behaviors and the choices students make by giving them opportunities to take ownership of their actions, and restore their relationships with their peers and teachers. This year Bancroft is taking it a step further by making sure that every teacher and student is trained in the practice of yoga as a form of de-escalation and self-regulation. In addition, students will have a professional yoga instructor leading them through a 45-minute session whenever they are referred to Restorative Justice. Our goal this year to eliminate all suspensions so that students can focus on the things that are most important about life – learning and having fun.
Garrison PARCC Scores and showed improvement in both ELA and Math. We improved from 4% proficient in ELA (reading) to 14%! We improved from 11% proficient in Math to 19%! In addition, we begin the year on the heels of the best academic year we have had in my four years:
- We ended last year with 65% of our students in K-5 reading at or above grade level.
- We ended last year with 44% of our students in 1-5 doing mathematics on grade level.
- We ended last year with an In-seat attendance rate of 94%.
HD Cooke has been going strong since returning to school on August 8! We have already had our students visit the Capitol, go swimming, and our 5th graders went zip lining. We are excited about adding extra school days that mean extra adventures and learning. We are looking forward to an exciting year!
The Marie Reed community is settling in to our new “home away from home” at MacFarland Middle School for the 2016-2017 school-year. Students enjoy the experience of riding the school buses to and from Adams Morgan each day, and they LOVE our new playground! We are also proud to share that Marie Reed’s students DOUBLED their performance in ELA on the PARCC exam from 2015 to 2016 and raised their average performance in Math by 10 points! Marie Reed is certainly on the path to greatness. We are Panthers! We are Proud! We are Powerful! Somos Panteras! Estamos Orgullosos! Somos Ponderosas!
Back to school night Wednesday September 7, 5:00-6:30. We are excited to welcome our families to Tubman!
Benjamin Banneker Academic High School has the highest PARCC scores in the District with 30% increase math and 24% in ELA! Please see this link for details.
Cardozo Education Campus is back in session for the 2016-2017 school year with commitment to the school wide vision of "Excellence through Innovation"! Join us for Back-to-School Night on September 13th at 6 pm to meet our staff and enjoy a light dinner.
Our Ward 1 community is also invited to our campus as we host a Youth and Family Resource Fair on Saturday, September 17 from 9 am - 2 pm. All families are welcome to attend and learn more about community and academic resources in the following areas: Health coverage, Immigration legal resources, English classes, etc. Childcare will be provided.
Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC)
This year, the CHEC Hispanic Heritage production is entitled Drum Dream Girls, based on a poem Margarita Engle, illustrations by Rafael Lopez, and adapted as a play by Tony Koehler and Amal Saade. Drum Dream Girl is a story of a young woman whose dream it was to drum but was told by her father that it was not appropriate for young girls to drum. Due to this restriction, the main character delves into magical worlds where she can fully realize her dreams of making music. The book and play are based on a true story of an all-female salsa group named "Anacoana" that featured 11 sisters by the name of Castro in 1932. In the 1930s, an all-female salsa band was not only scandalous but also dangerous.
On Friday, September 2, after school, we are hosting a viewing the documentary based on "Anacoana" entitled Buena Vista Sister's Club. This serves as a way to prepare our performer's understanding of the historical significance of the play they will be performing. It's also a way for the CHEC community to take part in learning more about an incredible aspect of Latin American History and showing your support of CHEC Arts. If you would like to volunteer to help with the production, please email Amylia Barnett at email@example.com
Performances of Drum Dream Girls will take place on Thursday, October 20th at 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (for CHEC students only), Friday, October 21st, at 10:00 a.m. (for young audiences) and 6:00 p.m. (for the full community – all welcome).
*I have included school news from those schools who have submitted information to me. I welcome updates!