The overarching goal of S.H.A.P.P.E. in all of our work is to support the families and citizens of DC in their desire to sustain and grow a strong quality publicly managed school system.  We believe it is vital that DCPS be strengthened and maintained.  We believe that coming together to discuss and decide what is important for our children to learn, how individuals and schools will be evaluated and what the resources and supports needed are, is an integral part of maintaining a democracy.  We now have 66 separate school systems in DC with 65 of them managed by non- profit boards.  The share of students attending DCPS has fallen since Mayoral Control even as the city’s population has grown. 

S.H.A.P.P.E. continues to be a group working cooperatively on: promoting an equitable standard of resource and service distribution among public schools; expanding educational opportunities; a comprehensive approach to safety and health; and modernized facilities aligned with sound educational practice.  To achieve this we facilitate partnerships between parents, principals and educators in the 17 DCPS high schools. We also work to expand the direct communication between the high school communities and the public and private agencies that affect their work with young people.

S.H.A.P.P.E. will continue to advocate for strong education policy, a fair equitable budget, and sound evaluation tools to inform policy and practice and the necessary broader civic engagement to achieve a better education for our city’s young people.


Important Announcements:

Our 21st Anniversary Meeting will be held at Cardozo on February 26th from 6pm to 8pm.

Our event with Jack Schneider on School Quality was well attended and we have gotten great feedback. Check out our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SHAPPEDC for the video. For those that don't have facebook it can be viewed here

On the issue of Selective School Admission, Cathy Reilly sent the following email to Paul Kihn, Lewis Ferebee and cc'd Shawn Stover on Feb. 19th, unfortunately we did not know about Charles Allen's emergency legislation which lost on the SWW application criteria described here https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/dc-council-rejects-reprieve-for-students-ineligible-for-school-without-walls/2019/02/19/23821b4a-3453-11e9-854a-7a14d7fec96a_story.html?utm_term=.ba8772dbb642. 

This is again, an example of the absence of a full planning process both for long range and short range policy.  DCPS also does not have a policy board. The Council Committee on Education fulfills some of this function but not all, their primary focus is on budget and oversight.  

Dear DME Kihn, and Acting Chancellor Ferebee,


Test scores as a credible measure to determine an individual student's future options have come under close scrutiny.  I am concerned that DCPS is using 7th grade test scores as a barrier to even be able to apply to 5 of the 8 DCPS selective schools or programs.  Studies on stereotype threat hint that evaluating this way unfairly disadvantages groups of minority students. The test score data shows that it disqualifies hundreds of students, mostly minority who may have fulfilled all the other requirements including GPA's of over a  3.0 and a 4 or 5 PARCC score  in one of the subjects tested. The test requirement represented a change this year to the School Without Walls policy and also the Phelps policy.  


This is not in keeping with the spirit and intent that was present when these schools were founded. For example, at McKinley it was explicitly stated that test scores should not be used but rather evidence of motivation and desire to pursue the course of study offered there should be the main criteria for admission.  This is similar to the DC Bard process this year. It was central to the creation of it as a new high school at that time.  


An apology to 200 students at this point because of an administrative error is really not ok and not part of the problem solving, students at the center approach we are all working for.  There are significant underlying questions that we hope will be addressed and then we can move forward, not next year but with options for this year. 


·         When did test scores become a requirement for even filing an application to be considered for admission to these 5 schools? 

·         Who decides on the application requirements and then who gives the final ok? 

·         What is the process in the DCPS system when a change of application or admission requirements is proposed?  

·         What is the process to determine if this is the best avenue, what other options are considered?  

·         Is the specific criteria used to admit students published? My School DC says:  "DCPS selective high schools and programs admit students based on specific criteria. Each of the selective high schools identifies which applicants meet their specific minimum requirements, and then each school determines the order of priority among that group." 

·         Who asks the questions about how it might affect different groups of students, how it will ensure fairness and equity? How are these issues than addressed?


There are many accommodations to circumstances and many waivers, delays and remedies for the errors or mistakes made in the system. We see delays etc. with this year’s budget for example.  We know that there are selective schools that have admitted students who did not score a 4 or 5 on the PARCC even though that is listed as application criteria. We are asking that the students who have applied to these schools be permitted to be considered for admission and that this be made public for this year. It does not have to be limited to the top 15.  You are stating that students will be considered not admitted.  This is something we can do and have done.  For next year we would like to work with you and with all of our high schools – application, neighborhood and alternative on a clear and fair policy that encourages DCPS secondary enrollment in all of our schools. 

Thank you and I look forward to working with you on this and on planning for all of our DCPS secondary schools.   Cathy Reilly