Cross-posted from the April Edition of the Citizen Reader.
Every year, as part of the Council’s oversight responsibilities, the various committees send out a list of questions to each of the agencies within their purview. The questions and agencies’ responses are then posted on the Council’s Home Page under Agency Responses providing the public with a wealth of information rarely seen elsewhere.
Because of Mayor Bowser’s changes in the office of the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) when she took office last year, such as moving the DCPS chancellor and the Department of Parks and Recreation into the DME’s responsibilities, and because of the DME’s description of its mission, which says in part, “…responsibility for developing and implementing the Mayor’s vision for academic excellence and creating a high quality education…”, and because, though she has made numerous announcements of particular initiatives, the Mayor has not yet presented her own vision or over-all plan for education in DC to the public, it seems worthwhile to the Citizen Reader to give some attention to a few of the Committee on Education’s oversight questions of the DME’s office.
The Committee asked 49 questions which, together with the responses, take up 44 pages not including the many appendixes. Below are some of the questions in their original words in bold italics. The responses are summarized in regular type.
Q1. Discuss each of the programmatic and policy initiatives the DME has worked on in FY15 and FY16 to date. Please include details about a long-term strategic plan if there is one being developed.
The response lists and describes in detail the following: My School DC, (Supply, Demand, Need data), LEA Payment initiative, Equity Reports, since 2013, Truancy Task Force, Request for Offer (RFO), Transportation Working Group (TWG), Cross Sector Task Force, and ReEngagement Center evaluation.
The response does not mention a long-term strategic plan, but the details offered on the LEA Payment initiative say that the way that money is allocated to DCPS and the Charter Schools will change so that, beginning in SY16-17, both receive funds based on their audited enrollment rather than the Charters by audited and DCPS by projected enrollment.
Q4. In June, the National Academy of Sciences released it five-year evaluation of public education in the District of Columbia under mayoral control. Discuss and provide plans for how the DME intends to address each of the following three recommendations from the study:
– Recommendation 1: The District of Columbia should have a comprehensive data warehouse that makes basic information about the school system available in one place that is readily accessible online to parents, the community, and researchers.
The response mentions the Office of State Superintendent’s LearnDC website that provides “school level information on the metrics of federal accountability measures including assessments (report card tab), student enrollment, college-readiness, and growth in student achievement (profile tab), and how well schools equitably serve students including suspensions and expulsions and enrollment mobility and detailed subgroup presentation (equity reports tab).”
It also says that OSSE has requested $15 million for a 5-year capital investment, beginning in FY2017, and that OSSE’s staff and developers are meeting weekly to identify all the authoritative data that will be housed in the new data warehouse.
– Recommendation 2: The District of Columbia should establish institutional arrangements that will support ongoing independent evaluation of its public education system.
The response says the DME has met with various entities to discuss the best way to support ongoing evaluation including with the DC auditor and that the DME is also exploring best practice models from other jurisdictions.
– Recommendation 3: The District of Columbia’s primary objective for its public schools should be to address the serious and persistent disparities in learning opportunities and academic progress that are evident across student groups and neighborhoods, with equal attention to DCPS and public charter schools. To that end, the NRC Committee recommends that the city attend to:
Continue reading Questions for D.C.’s Deputy Mayor for Education