Aug 18: When will we see PARCC scores?, School readiness tours with CM Cheh, Issues for a new Chancellor

Follow me @ruth4schools contact me:

Welcome Back to School!
I hope you had a great summer! I am Ward 3’s Member of the State Board of Education. I was elected in November 2014, am the parent of former(!) Janney/Deal/Wilson students, and work professionally in education policy. To subscribe to my newsletter, email

When will PARCC scores arrive?
I’ve received many questions about when last spring’s PARCC scores will be released. According to OSSE (Office of the State Superintendent of Education): The aggregate and school-level scores will be posted on the OSSE website in late August. In addition, schools will be able to access individual student reports from a secure portion of the OSSE website at that time. By early September, copies of the student reports will be sent to the schools that students attended in the spring, and these schools will be responsible for distributing the report to families. So for families awaiting their students scores: Sounds like you’ll get them in the first couple of weeks in September.

School Readiness Tours With Councilwoman Mary Cheh;
Checking every toilet, light, and classroom every fall for 10 years!

For ten years, Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh has been conducting annual readiness tours before schools open, visiting every Ward 3 school to make sure every toilet flushes, every light bulb works, supplies and staff are in place, dangerous sidewalk cracks and stairway treads are fixed–and beautiful gardens are admired! Where necessary, she uses her authority to get schools what they need, fast.
I joined her this year, with her chief of staff Dee Smith, constituent services manager Anthony Cassillo, and intern (and Janney/Deal/Wilson grad!) David Fadul and terrifically helpful Department of General Services staff. We visited every Ward 3 school and met with every principal. The schools are in such better shape than in the old days! Still, there were last minute efforts to make sure mold was removed, sidewalk cracks fixed, painting completed, and more.

At Stoddert Elementary, Left to right, SBOE member Ruth Wattenberg, Mary Jane Patterson Fellow, Shenora Plenty, CM Mary Cheh, Principal Donald Bryant, AP Ibis Villegas  (Sorry, no photo here; was in the original)

Chancellor Henderson leaving DCPS. What Next?
The process that will be used to select a new chancellor is explained here by the Washington Post. The members named to the selection committee are shown here. Concerns about the process and committee are explained here. As noted below, Mayor Bowser is eager to take “the pulse of the community” in choosing a new chancellor. Community meetings will be held to solicit community views on what’s needed in a new chancellor.
Roosevelt HS 6:30-8pm,Aug 30
Eastern HS 6:30-8pm, Sep 7
Savoy Elem 6:30-8pm, Sep 14
Childcare and light refreshments. Flyer with dates/sites.

Below are excerpts from my previous newsletter on issues that should be paramount for the new chancellor.

Key issues for a new chancellor
1. Lagging achievement of lowest income students

2. Research on what works and what doesn’t

3. Greater responsiveness to needs of school communities

(excerpted from my July newsletter.

My years as a DCPS parent began in 2000, when our first child entered Janney. I think I have lived through five superintendents/chancellors. What a ride it’s been–and, what a great time to take stock. Mayor Bowser has told the Washington Post that “part of searching for a new chancellor will be taking the pulse of the community, getting feedback from stakeholders and moving forward.” A great first step!
Here are 3 issues that I hope the mayor will put front and center as she plans a process and chooses a new chancellor.

1. The lagging achievement of our students with the greatest needs. It is well-known that DC’s average NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) test scores have gone up. But this high average growth masks stagnant or very slow progress among our city’s most impoverished and lowest achieving students. A study of DC test scores by DC Action for Children shows that among our lowest-income students, 3rd grade reading scores actually dipped from 2007-2014.
Why? Did top scores go up because the student population now includes more affluent students who statistically tend to score better? Are some reforms having a different impact on students with the greatest academic needs? We need to understand what’s happening, so we can address the enormous achievement gap. Which brings me to:

2. Our urgent need to know much more about what is and isn’t working—and why. DC has launched some of the nation’s most far-reaching, attention-getting education reforms. But have they worked? Did they work in some places, not others? Why?

What can we do to elicit more widespread success?This is the right moment to pursue these questions—and to do so in a way that doesn’t prejudge the answers. Recently I was on a panel with Anthony Bryk, the highly-regarded founder of the Chicago Consortium on School Reform, an independent research group that has partnered for two decades with the Chicago Public Schools.
One of his key principles for successful school research:When establishing research questions, include the people who are absolutely sure the reform will succeed and those who are sure it will fail. That way, you don’t easily fall prey to finding the answers you want, and your findings have greater credibility, even among the skeptics. We have so much to learn in this city–and, so many efforts to learn from. We need more and better data (the new city budget includes an investment in this)—and a commitment to independent research like that modeled by CCSR. (For more on this, see my testimony to City Council’s Committee of the Whole and op-ed in Washington Post.)

3. Engaging, respecting, and responding to the needs and views of local school communities. In my years as a DCPS parent and even more in the year and a half since I’ve been elected, I’ve seen DCPS become increasingly top-down and insular. New programs have been mandated, existing programs eliminated, and school budgets cut at the last minute–in ways that have left school communities, including parent, teachers, students and even principals, with no opportunity to weigh in or thoughtfully consider alternatives. I hear growing reluctance in school communities to invest in thoughtful, creative planning, as the best laid plans can be wiped out by a new mandate or unforeseen budget cut from on-high. This isn’t healthy. Good ideas don’t emerge from insular cultures.We need a better balance between encouraging, engaging and respecting the views of school communities; and the genuine need for coherent district-level programming and planning.

Let me know your thoughts on this and your priorities.

Offer your views on DCPS Chancellor:

3 Community meetings: 6:30-8PM

Roosevelt HS, Aug 30
Eastern HS, Sept 7
Savoy Elem, Sept 14

Childcare/Light refreshments

See my priorities for a new chancellor here.

Stoddert needs visitor parking passes for teachers!

If you live near Stoddert (in ANC 3-B), consider providing your visitor parking pass to Stoddert, where it can be used by staff. If so, drop it off at the Stoddert school office. Thanks! If other schools have a similar issue, contact me, and I can publicize in next newsletter.

Comments on PARCC?

As a member of the State Board of Education, I will be conveying to the State Board comments, concerns, and compliments about the PARCC tests to OSSE to aid its ongoing effort to make PARCC administration as smooth and productive as possible.
What do you think?
Send concerns/compliments:

Report on DC Testing?

The issue of excessive testing is an issue around the country. In response, the federal Secretary of Education has made available funds for states (including DC) to study the quantity and quality of testing in an effort to more fully understand how the various testing requirements play out at the school level and to streamline it. I have urged DC to undertake such a study and will continue to do so. If you have any thoughts on this please email me at

Apply for the SBOE’s Student Advisory Committee

The State Board of Education is looking for new student voices to help influence our work.

Click here to Find out what it’s like to serve as a student rep on the SBOE and more about the application process online.

Call the Ombudsman…

If you believe that your schools is not providing adequate services to your child, and you have been unable to resolve the issue on your own with school faculty or administration, you may contact the State Board of Education’s Ombudsman for mediation at Also: @DC_Ombuds.

Happy Fall !!!!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: