Testimony for April DC State Board of Education Public Meeting

April 26, 2023

Public Meeting

Jessica Giles
Executive Director
Education Reform Now D.C.

Greetings Executive Director Butler, Representatives, Student Representatives, and D.C. State Board of Education (SBOE) staff. My name is Jessica Giles. I am a ward seven resident and the Executive Director of Education Reform Now D.C. (ERN DC). ERN D.C. is a non-profit organization fighting for a just and equitable public education system for all students in Washington, D.C. 

Thank you to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and SBOE for holding many opportunities for the public to engage in the revision of the Social Studies Standards. In February, ERN DC submitted public comment to the OSSE and public testimony to the SBOE recommending essential changes that are needed to the Social Studies Standards. Several of our recommendations were accepted, including providing more clarity on how teachers implement the Social Studies standards in practice, diversifying the list of feminist scholars and thought leaders, and addressing the role that enslaving Black people played in the development of the District’s institutions. We hope OSSE and SBOE move swiftly to approve these standards. 

Additionally, I would like the State Board and the State Level and Systemic Policy Committee, in particular, to focus on two additional vital topics this year.


The Need: 51 percent of students enroll in a two or four-year college. However, only 8 out of 100 9th-grade students will complete a postsecondary degree within six  years of high school graduation. 58 percent of D.C.’s job market requires a postsecondary degree, yet only 26 percent of D.C. residents aged 18 to 34 who were born here have a postsecondary degree, compared to 70 percent of those who moved here. Dual enrollment has a significant effect on 2-year and 4-year college enrollment, degree attainment, and early labor market earnings six years after high school, with stronger effects for students who are traditionally underrepresented. 

About Dual Enrollment: An estimated 10% of the student population uses dual enrollment opportunities. It needs to be clarified what percentage of students receive college credit. Bard High School Early College provides 377 students with an opportunity to graduate high school with an associate’s degree. In the fall of 2022, the Mayor’s office launched the Advanced Technical Center, which offers nearly 100 students the opportunity to take up to 20 college courses free of charge in cybersecurity, general nursing, and health information technology over a two-year period. In addition, over 450 students are taking dual enrollment courses at local Institutions of Higher Education (IHE). Many of these students have to take the course virtually or attend the course in person at the IHEs, which is time-consuming. Please note: the location of some LEAs and bus schedules can make it quite impossible for some students to participate meaningfully in in-person dual enrollment courses. Additionally, the difficulties that students face enduring long commutes to and from their classes create significant barriers to access, especially for students with the least financial means who are also least likely to attend school near colleges or universities that offer in-person dual enrollment. Further, three charter LEAs and 9 D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) schools do not offer any dual enrollment opportunities at all. 

In March 2022, the Deputy Mayor for Education partnered with the College in High School Alliance to develop a District of Columbia Dual Enrollment Needs Assessment Action Plan. Recommendations from this action plan are listed below:

  • Engage in a Process to Understand DC Student & Parent Perspectives on Dual Enrollment
  • Develop a Comprehensive Dual Enrollment Ecosystem Map for DC
  • Continue to Build DC Dual Enrollment Data Availability & Tools For Use
  • Formalize and Expand OSSE’s Dual Enrollment Community of Practice
  • Consider Alternative Program Models and State Funding Mechanisms for Dual Enrollment
  • Expand Dual Enrollment Course Options and Dual Crediting of Class Experiences
  • Provide Tools and Resources to School Counselors & Other Dual Enrollment Practitioners
  • Develop a Student, Parent, and Caregiver Friendly Web Portal for DC Dual Enrollment

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education deserves some credit for progress made on understanding student and parent perspectives regarding dual enrollment and increasing the number of seats offered, but the Mayor’s proposed FY2024 budget includes no additional investments in dual enrollment opportunities and we are already behind on the timeline for completing the recommendations. 

Furthermore, there are two important issues I would like the Committee to pay special attention to:

  • The need for expanding in-person cohort-based dual enrollment courses in the District. A successful example includes the Bard Sequence, which is currently offered at Idea Public Charter School and Thurgood Marshall Public Charter School.
  • Students must have more opportunities to receive high school credit for their college courses. DC is an outlier in this regard, and it is incredibly inefficient. 


The Need: Currently, D.C. does not require students to learn personal financial literacy skills, and too few schools offer it. Financial literacy concepts such as earning income, spending, saving, investing, managing credit, and managing risk are all information that D.C’s students must learn to succeed in school, life, and career.

Additionally, students need to learn how to become an entrepreneur, better understand career paths, and labor market opportunities during the “income” segment. 

The Colorado Department of Education summarizes personal financial literacy as the following “[it] applies the economic way of thinking to help individuals understand how to manage their scarce resources using a logical decision-making process of prioritization based on analysis of the costs and benefits of every choice.” Currently, ten states offer financial literacy as a part of the social studies standards. While OSSE is not revising the social studies standards to include additional financial literacy standards, OSSE should develop and adopt standalone financial literacy standards as soon as possible. We urge OSSE and SBOE to prioritize these two issues this year. 

Thank you for allowing me to testify today.