April 2017 Update: New accountability plan is adopted by the State Board of Education
I’ve reported a number of times that the new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, gave every state a chance to change how it evaluates its schools. The law replaces the old No Child Left Behind Act, which required states (including DC) to evaluate schools almost exclusively based on reading and math test scores and on the proportion of students who reached the score threshold deemed “proficient.”
After many months of discussion, testimony, and two drafts, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) brought its final accountability proposal to the State Board of Education (SBOE) for a vote at the end of March.
I voted against the proposal, along with my colleagues from wards 6 and 8, because I didn’t believe the plan moved far enough towards judging schools based on more than just reading and math scores. I also was disappointed that it didn’t move further towards crediting schools for their students’ progress, especially at the high school level, where schools will continue to get no credit for their students’ test score growth. This Washington Post article explains the issues surrounding the new proposal, and this Post op-ed explains the additional changes my colleagues and I had hoped for.
Without question though, the new policy is an improvement over the previous system. Moreover, I credit my colleagues on the State Board for encouraging OSSE to improve on its original January proposal and OSSE for incorporating some of these improvements. All involved are committed to further improving the process over time.
The State Board will be establishing a task force and a process for following up on some of the commitments made in the final proposal, including a way to measure high school “growth” and an indicator for “access and opportunities,” aimed at encouraging schools to provide students with a well-rounded education.
I look forward to working with my SBOE colleagues, OSSE, and the community to bring about the improvements we all still hope to see.