Office of the State Supt./State BOE

Office of the State Superintendent for Education

Three S.H.A.P.P.E. Members participated in this task force; Cathy Reilly, David Tansey and Laura Fuchs.  

Thank you for your continued interest in the work of the DC State Board of Education’s High School Credit Flexibility Task Force. The task force completed its work on December 3rd. Minutes for this meeting can be found on the SBOE meeting website or by clicking here. 

The chair of the task force, Laura Wilson Phelan (State Board of Education Ward 1 Member), prepared a report of the task force’s findings for consideration by the full SBOE. This report was considered at the SBOE Public Meeting on December 16, 2015 in the Old Council Chambers, 441 4th Street, NW.  

The report makes three recommendations for earning high school credit and one recommendation associated with course timing:


1. Create a waiver process for schools wishing to pursue competency-based learning

2. Allow students to receive credit for demonstrated prior knowledge in world language and mathematics

3. Maintain Carnegie units as the default means for earning credit where neither of the two above conditions apply

4. Remove the requirement that students enroll in Algebra I by 9th grade.

You can read the full report here

At the Public Meeting on Wednesday, the SBOE voted on adoption of the task force report and did accept it. It is the intention of the SBOE to continue public engagement on the recommendations prior to a final vote on regulations in early 2016. 


The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is managed by the State Superintendent who reports to the Deputy Mayor for Education. 
Posted below are the S.H.A.P.P.E. comments to OSSE on the waiver proposal

To:  Jeff Noel of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education

Re: ESEA Waiver

From: Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators – Cathy Reilly and David Tansey

Date: March 12, 2015

RE: Comments on the ESEA Accountability Waiver

The current system is one of rewards and sanctions often used in a business setting.  We are recommending that OSSE adjust their approach as much as possible within this metric to one that stresses educational support and growth.  The high turnover rate of teachers and the high number of students switching schools even mid-year is partly the result of a policy that values choice above stability.  The accountability measures used on the report cards and to rank schools contribute to this high mobility. 

In addition we recommend that high stakes decisions formerly based almost singularly on test scores also be informed going forward by professional judgement of the Local Education Agency. 


Resources and Challenges

The resources a school receives and the challenges that a school faces should be included in the metrics used to measure a school.  Many of our schools in priority or focus status are working with more limited resources and more challenged students than some that are in reward status and working with largely students who are proficient upon entering the school.  

Measuring Student Achievement

We support changing the current scoring system to give student academic growth an increased weight with proficiency secondary.  This will tell us which schools are high functioning and effective.  In order to get a full understanding of both academic growth and proficiency we recommend that OSSE report and use this data in their index scoring:

     Median growth, preferably in years of academic growth – not median growth percentile which is a rank rather than a measure

     Proficiency by grade

     The range of proficiency indicating the numbers of students at the high and low end

Using these metrics, parents and LEA and OSSE officials will be better able to judge whether a school is a high functioning school.

OSSE’s Proficiency and Growth Index Values

OSSE’s table used for calculating index values (figure 2.B.i in ESEA Flexibility Renewal Form) does not seem to adequately recognize growth for schools that teach students who are below grade level. A school that teaches predominantly proficient students will receive 100 points for keeping those students on grade level. A school that helps move a student to proficient receives the same number of points, even if a student moves multiple steps. That is indicative of multiple years of growth. Schools should be rewarded for achieving such growth at a rate greater than that of maintaining a step.

Rewarding growth in this way would reverse the current negative incentive that exists for serving students who are below grade level.

It should also be noted that schools only receive points for maintaining levels of proficiency and above. If a student is Basic - High and remains such, the school receives no points. This seems an unnecessary penalty. Maintaining any status, except maybe that of Below Basic - Low, means that a student is learning at something approximating one grade per year. Otherwise, they would have gone down a step.

Proposed Metrics for 2014-2015

The metrics currently under consideration should be expanded to include additional measures. These metrics advantage magnet and charter schools who are working with students who arrive far closer to being able to achieve in AP or IB classes.

As we understand it, the proposed new metrics for Academic Year 2014-2015 include:

Percent of students scoring “college ready” on SAT (1550) or ACT (18-23)- LEA and School Level 53

Percent of students taking IB exams - LEA and School Level

Percent of students scoring 3+ on AP test- LEA and School Level

Percent of students scoring 4+ on IB test- LEA and School Level

Percent of high school seniors completing FAFSA- LEA and School Level

Percent of high school seniors completing OneApp- LEA and School Level

Advanced courses offered (Honors, AP, IB, dual enrollment)


Additional suggestions:

There should be a metric on the number of students enrolled or taking AP tests. 

Percent of students taking CTE courses

Percent of students completing CTE strand or internship

Statewide school climate survey

ü  Mitigating Factors affecting a school’s performance-

·         term of principal, high turnover or extenuating circumstances

ü  Range of students the school serves – the task of a comprehensive school serving all students is different than a magnet application school.

ü  Widely varying levels of funding due to private grants, parent funds, etc.


Equal Access: Along with teacher preparation and licensure OSSE can advise LEA’s on evaluation.  Evaluation systems that are regarded as fair, that take into account varying levels of challenge and acknowledge effectiveness and growth will support greater teacher retention. 

School environments that work with teachers as respected professionals, partners and collaborators will also support greater teacher retention.

Cathy Reilly,
Dec 3, 2014, 1:50 PM