Letter from the DC Community about Education Equity

Dr. Christina Grant, State Superintendent of Education

Office of the State Superintendent of Education

1050 First St NE

Washington, D.C. 20002

February 23, 2022

Dear D.C. State Superintendent of Education Dr. Christina Grant:

The D.C. School Report Card and STAR Framework was launched in December 2018 to give families, communities, and policymakers a tool that provides essential information about annual school performance. It comprises specific metrics such as student achievement, student growth, improved English language attainment, graduation rate, and school environment. It provides comparative school data on how all students are performing in each of these metrics so that families can decide which school best meets their child’s needs.

Recently, the D.C. State Board of Education (SBOE) voted to remove the single summative rating from the D.C. School Report Card and make a dashboard of various metrics instead. This change would dramatically reshape the D.C. School Report Card without making equity a critical guiding principle. While well-intentioned, this proposal fails to make transformational change in our accountability system.

D.C. residents want our district leaders to make bold changes and adopt new ways of thinking to recover from the covid-19 pandemic so that their child, and every child, has a just and equitable public education. In furtherance of this, we urge you to adopt the following five recommendations:

(1) Re-strategize and refocus outreach efforts to ensure that families in all eight wards know that the D.C. school report card and star framework is a tool that they can use to help them make decisions about schools. Families want to know that their child’s school is safe, joyful, and provides them with high-quality learning opportunities but there are still many families who have no idea that the DC School Report Card exists. A recent report from the D.C. Policy Center confirms that families use a variety of tools to make decisions: school visit (48 percent), word of mouth (48 percent), STAR or school quality ratings (37 percent), school report card data (28 percent), school websites (26 percent), promotional materials (10 percent), and other (10 percent).

(2) Get buy-in from families and D.C. residents in all eight wards, particularly those furthest from opportunity, to determine how best to use the D.C. School Report Card and Star Framework to serve their students better. The lessons learned from these focus groups can help the Office of the State Superintendent of Education and the SBOE identify ways to support schools in identifying resources and inputs that will reinvigorate joy in learning, facilitate academic growth, and put students on a path to future success.

(3) Improve, but do not eliminate the single summative rating. D.C. must keep the summative rating so that all families have access to clearly communicated, detailed information that provides a single transparent metric for determining how well their child’s school serves all students. We urge District leaders to improve the summative rating by assigning greater weights to schools providing high-quality learning to students with special needs, English language learners, students designated as “at-risk,” and students experiencing significant social change. This is the equitable approach we should be adopting as a city. One key area to consider in the future is tieing summative ratings to reading proficiency to ensure that the District remains serious about its commitment to ensuring every student is equipped with this most fundamental civil right.

(4) Administer the district-wide annual assessment exam this spring. The District uses statewide summative assessments, like the PARCC exam, to provide a baseline understanding of all D.C. students’ academic progress to drive programmatic changes and direct resources to schools that need them most. Unfortunately, it has been two years since the District last administered the PARCC exam. Though these tests may not be perfect, we should fix them, not end them. Rather than just ending testing, students, parents, educators, and policymakers in the District should have a real review to see what is working, what isn’t, and how we can change these important tests to meet the needs of students and educators. DC education leaders might consider shortening the length of the exam and making it more useful for students and families by ensuring the exam provides more rapid, useful feedback on how the student is progressing and what support they need to succeed.

(5) Get serious about innovation and school improvement. The Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to set aside 7% of Title I funds to support schools identified in need of support under state accountability systems. The DC State Report Card should demonstrate how those funds are utilized, and our local research-practice partners must analyze their impact to guide improvement.

Covid-19 has greatly exacerbated already existing inequities between student groups. That is why we owe it to our students to transform our public education system so we more effectively put them on a path to success. We urge the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to adopt these recommendations so that every student receives a just and equitable education in the District of Columbia.

In service,

Eva Johnson                        Ward 8 Parent

Michael Dannenberg           Ward 3 Parent

Linda Epstein                       Ward 3 Parent

Lea Crusey                          Ward 6 Parent

Debra Gaines                      Ward 8  

Amanda Borden                   Ward 2 Parent

Tynejia Grant                      Ward 7  

Sherry                                  Ward 8  

Maura Marino                      Ward 1  

Sullivan                                Ward 2 Parent

Cassandra Gentry               Ward 6 Parent

Kyle Myers                           Ward 5  

Irina Shaman                       Ward 6 Parent

Odessa Bolton                     Ward 6  

Trudy Murray                       Ward 1 Parent

Michael Stewart                   Ward 5 Parent

Joshua Hodge                     Ward 6  

Don Weigel                          Ward 7              

Kyle Myers                           Ward 5              

Nicole D’Angelo                   Ward 5 Parent              

Scott Pearson                      Ward 3  

Artecka Brown                      Ward 5 Parent                          

Isis Rustin                            Ward 1              

Josh Boots                           Ward 6              

Minetre Martin                      Ward 4             

Sarah Bradach                     Ward 3             

Margie Yeager                      Ward 3 Parent

Michael Sriqui                       Ward 3 Parent

Matthew Nocella                   Ward 4

Morrell Miles                         Ward 7 Parent

Catharine Bellinger               Ward 1

Marita Riddick                       Ward 5             

David Grosso                        Ward 5

Erika Harrell                          Ward 7 Parent

Jaqueline Castaneda            Ward 1 

Maria Harrell Logan              Ward 5

Bethany Little                         Ward 3 Parent

Morello Miles                         Ward 7 Parent

Ellen Dodsworth                  

Jessica Giles                        Ward 7 

Will Stoetzer                         Ward 5

Eric Paisner                          Ward 6 Parent

Julie Klingenstein                 Ward 2 

Andrew Klingenstein             Ward 2 

Evelyn Fraser                       Ward 5 

Nicholas Munyan-Penney     Ward 2

Linda Jones                          Ward 8 Parent

Daniele Avila                         Ward 1 Parent

Nora Lieberman                    Ward 7

Tracy Barnes                        Ward 5 Parent


Rep. Jessica Sutter, President

Rep. Eboni-Rose Thompson, Vice President

D.C. State Board of Education

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