Forward to November 1999 Update Back to Parents United main page Back to May 1999 Update
Parents United for the D.C. Public Schools
|New Stanford 9 performance targets
find many schools wanting
Problems with the methodology of using the Stanford 9 scores for evaluating performance of principals
What is cohousing?
DCPS budget for SY 1999-2000 less than meets the eye
DC capital funding shorts schools by $11 million
Children raised by DC grandmothers will be allowed to register for school after all
Proving DC residency: schools told to keep copies of your documents
Principal evaluation process
Families and Friends of Special Children cook out
School Board self-destructing?
How can we keep good teachers if we discourage them
Think college early
Council hearing notices
Local school management through LSRTS agreement between parents, principals, teachers and staff is key
Applications for special permission for out of boundary registration
PARENTS UNITEDS ANNUAL FALL MEETING & ADVOCACY AWARDS PRESENTATION
October 7, 1999
Come out and participate in our annual salute to school advocacy, and meet Superintendent Arlene Ackerman. If you have questions that are not getting answered, here's your opportunity to go right to the top. Hors d'oeuvres and drinks will be served starting at 6: 30 pm; the meeting will begin promptly at 7:00. To help us know how many people will be attending, please call us at 202-518-3667 if you plan to come.
NEW STANFORD 9 PERFORMANCE TARGETS FIND MANY SCHOOLS WANTING
This past year, Superintendent Ackerman set six performance targets for schools to improve their Stanford 9 scores. Those targets were to raise the percentage of students scoring below basic to basic by 10%; to raise the percentage of basic to proficient by 10%; and to raise the percentage of proficient to advanced by 5% in Math and Reading. Seven schools met all six targets: Birney, Brent, Browne JHS, Burroughs, Reed, Seaton and Turner. These seven schools will receive a $15,000 bonus payment into their DAPS accounts. Adams, JF Cook, Dunbar Pre-Engineering HS, Garnet-Patterson MS, Green, P.R. Harris, Ludlow Taylor, Payne, Raymond, Takoma and West met five of the six targets. They will each receive $7,500 extra in their DAPS accounts. The schools that met four of the performance targets are: Bancroft, Bell MCHS, Hardy MS, Hine JHS, Kramer MS, Meyer, Park View, Patterson, Ross, School Without Walls SHS, Shepherd, Wheatley, Woodson Business and Finance, and Young and will receive $3,750 extra in their DAPS accounts.
Schools that failed to meet the benchmark targets must submit a plan for improvement. The plan must address three issues: 1) how principal and staff will use the test data to move students into all of the performance levels; 2) what the principal, as instructional leader will do to improve the quality of instruction in your school; 3) what measurements (other than grades) the school will use to assess student progress on a quarterly basis.
PROBLEMS WITH THE METHODOLOGY OF USING THE STANFORD 9
SCORES FOR EVALUATING PERFORMANCE OF PRINCIPALS
|DCPS Request||Council/Mayor/Control Board||After withholding||If full special ed cost paid|
|Per pupil formula||$526M||$526M||$496M||$470M|
|Spec ed tuition/transportation||$101M||$75M||$75M||$101M|
|Formula per pupil base||$5588||$5588||??||NA|
|Total per DCPS pupil incl. special needs||$7472||$7472||$7046||$6667|
The District's 1999 bond issue to pay for major repairs, renovations and construction gives the DC Public Schools $11 million less than their entitlement under the 1997 agreement ending Parents United's law suit to enforce the fire code. The District is raising $240 M to pay for such projects as school building roofs, street repair and traffic lights, new financial systems and police computers and facilities. DCPS is to receive $55 M, while under the fire code settlement, schools are entitled to 27.5% of long- term financing or $66 M. Since we all know that our crumbling school buildings need more than the additional $11 M, Parents United's pro bono lawyers are pursuing this issue.
We are delighted that DC's bond rating is good enough at the BBB level (AAA is highest) to permit $240 M worth of new projects. But students, staff end parents suffered severe disruptions including a three week delay in the start of school in 1997 to get their 27.5% share, and we want them to have it.
Kinship care givers grandparents and others raising children of relatives and neighbors can now register these students under a new agreement with DCPS reached with the help of Steptoe & Johnson, the same firm that handled our fire code case. The school system decided that the Control Board's 1998 rules for proving DC residence meant that only those with legal custody could register a child. They promised for months to ask the Control Board to change the rule but never did, and schools have been turning these children away.
The D.C. Code actually requires that anyone with custody or control of a school-age child, including temporary residents, must keep the child in regular attendance at school under threat of jail and fines. It also says that if a DC resident provides evidence that he/she provides "care, custody and substantial support" to a child living with him/her and that the parent or legal guardian is unable to do this, the child is to be considered a resident of DC for purposes of school attendance.
Kinship care givers should go to Room 7115 (the Tuition Office, also called the Division of Student Residency, tel: 202-442-5215) at DCPS headquarters at 825 North Capitol St., NE to fill out and file a tuition exemption form, which will be processed immediately. They can then bring the completed form to the school, where the principal is required to enroll the child. We salute the work of Barbara Kagan, a DCPS parent and attorney, who has offered her services to the kinship care coalition and individual grandmothers.
The DC Council recently passed a law requiring schools to keep copies of documents parents present to prove they are DC residents. These documents include (1) your DC tax return or current pay stub or proof you receive public assistance and (2) two of the following DC driver's license, DC vehicle registration, voter registration, title to DC residential property, current lease agreement and receipt of rent payment, utility bill and paid receipt. Last year when some schools asked for copies of these documents to keep, parents protested and the Superintendent told schools not to keep copies, just to certify that they inspected them. Now the Council says that schools have to keep copies. If you think this is an invasion of your privacy, you should (1) black out any private information on the copy the school keeps and (2) complain to your council members (your ward and the five at-large!).
This year, Mrs. Ackerman has instituted a new system for evaluating principals. There are six categories and a point system that adds up to 100. The categories are:
The Superintendent did use some discretion in evaluating principals this year by recognizing incremental growth and progress. Factors in deciding the evaluation included: A) Did the school's test scores improve in 1999? B) Did the principal receive a rating of satisfactory or better in 1997/98? C) Did performance criteria in areas other than Stanford-9 scores total more than 35? Principals who answered yes to the above questions received a rating of satisfactory and a one year appointment. For other principals, Ackerman reviewed all performance data on an individual basis before deciding to reappoint.
Schools known for high performance levels that did not move enough students up in test achievement received no credit for high scores. Ackerman seems to be saying that every school's job is to raise test scores for all students.
FAMILIES AND FRIENDS OF SPECIAL CHILDREN INVITES YOU
TO OUR FIRST ANNUAL BACK IN SCHOOL COOK OUT!
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 1999, 9:00 AM - 2:30 PM
BRING A DISH AND/OR DONATION
COME TO A TOWN HALL MEETING FOR THE SPECIAL EDUCATION COMMUNITY
WITH SCHOOL AND CITY OFFICIALS - THURSDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1999
DINNER AT 6:00 (first come, first served)
TOWN HALL MEETING 7:00 - 9:00 PM - LOCATION TO BE ANNOUNCED
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON BOTH EVENTS CONTACT:
SISTER SHEMAYAH AT 202 529-0254 OR
MICHELLE AT 202 939-0555
Parents United has been concerned for some time that the elected Board would self-destruct at the time that parents wanted to see it reappear as an elected body accountable to the public to upgrade the quality of education in our city. To regain its authority requires convincing the appointed Control Board that they can run our schools effectively without the fractious contention that marked its past, and now again, its present.
The elected Board of Education voting 6 to 5 recently, removed Wilma Harvey as President of the Board. As Vice President, Dwight Singleton then became president. After intense intervention by Council member Kevin Chavous, Chair of the Council Committee on Education and Libraries, Harvey was reinstated with a strong Executive Committee that must approve her actions.
Those opposing Harvey cited her failure to inform the Board sufficiently of deliberations with the Board of Trustees, acting for the whole Board without consulting it, slow progress developing the transition plan and using Board staff for personal purposes. Those voting to retain Harvey cited lack of due-process in the decision to remove her, and no rules governing the removal of a president. Members of both groups cite the other group as wanting to remove the superintendent, and as jeopardizing the return of the Board's authority.
Voting to remove Harvey were Westy Byrd, W2; Don Reeves, W3; Dwight Singleton, W4; Ben Bonham, W6; Tanya Vidal-Kinlow and Robert Childs at-Large. Voting to retain Harvey were Wilma Harvey, W1; Angie Corley, W5; Tom Kelly, W7; William Lockridge, W8; and Gayle Dixon, at-Large.
During the last three years, the group with authority, the appointed Board of Trustees, has had no need to listen to the public and offered us few opportunities to address them with our concerns. It has been a difficult period for activists. While many of the initiatives of the Superintendent have been admirable and some successful, it is time for parents to have direct access to policy makers. It is time for the public to be able to help the Superintendent assess the success of her initiatives and to be able to believe that those actions that should change, will change. Parents United wanted the elected Board to show its commitment to monitoring the success of our schools, not fighting over who is in charge of a paper tiger. The District seems to be starting a serious discussion about how our schools should be governed. There is discussion in the media, a citizens forum at UDC on August 19th, a report forthcoming from the DC Appleseed Foundation based on research and interviews and City Council hearings to be announced later. We urge everyone to tell our elected representatives and the press how we must have elected responsive governance of our schools and soon.
Parents United has worked hard to advocate for upgraded academic achievement in our system. The Ackerman administration seems to be committed to the same, but how do we do it? Some phone calls to our office suggest that DCPS' new appraisal systems are discouraging good teachers.
Scenario. You are a reading/history teacher making an all out effort in a low performing school. Your class is doing well, scores are up, you get citations by professional organizations, people come to visit your classroom as a model that works. Your students do special projects.
You enter the principal's evaluation meeting ready for acknowledgment of your efforts. Instead, since the entire school's average reading score is low, you get few points for your own classes' success. Furthermore, since your principal made all teachers (including English/social studies) responsible for raising math and reading scores and your classes' math scores are mediocre, your total performance is further downgraded.
What to do to get a better rating next year? You can get out of that school into one with better prepared math students so you can focus on the English that you know how to teach? Shock! You cannot transfer to another school until all excessed English/social studies teachers in the system are placed in schools. That is unlikely to happen before school starts so you are stuck, discouraged and at a loss. Or, you can leave DCPS altogether and go to a school system that rewards your abilities - a lot of our good teachers are doing just that.
Is there any value to this system? Yes, I've heard that collective responsibility is a successful management tool. If the class cut-up keeps the rest of the students from going on a field trip, soon the other students will force the cut-up to behave. Maybe it will work here. If math is the English/social studies teachers' downfall (indeed, the downfall of all teachers since every subject teacher is evaluated on the math and English SAT-9 score structure), the entire staff will force the math department to help them teach math in their curriculum. Maybe! Or maybe the entire staff will feel betrayed the way residents of villages in a war feel when armies destroy an entire village in retaliation for sniper fire they cannot control.
We have other alternatives as well. Selective schools can refuse to take any students whose scores they do not want to deal with. Since ten percent of our students attend schools through special permission, we do a lot of "shopping around" for quality. If we can't shop, parents who want better quality schools will leave for charters, private schools or continue to leave the city. It is already difficult to get into some of our schools. This "test scores up or die" system can make it even more difficult and more discriminatory.
Parents United received a call in April from a parent who had just discovered that it was too late for her child to apply to colleges. Since no one in her family had ever attended college, this parent had no idea about the time frame for applications or the tests that schools want students to have taken, the financial aid forms that parents must submit she knew nothing. It is absolutely imperative for High School counselors to keep students and their parents informed on the college application process. We have developed a college preparation time-line (with great assistance from Eleanor Oliver from Wilson High School's college bureau). If you would like a copy. send us a note with a self-addressed stamped envelope and we'll send it out to you. If you have a high school (or even a junior high school) student in your house, it's never too early to start thinking about the college process.
When principals and parents cannot reach a consensus on the Weighted Student Formula and on how to spend the resources going into the school, no one will be happy with the result. In four schools that reached an impasse, the school system's administration sent in an outside mediator. When that did not work, the administration convened an outside team to write the school's plan. Only one parent was allowed to participate and the principal was totally excluded.
During a meeting of the Governance Committee for restructuring, principals on the committee were horrified that the principal could not develop the plan that they, as principal, would have to implement. Parents were equally horrified that only one parent was allowed to participate.
If you believe that schools improve best when parents, teachers and principal are working in harmony to achieve high quality learning, Parents United suggests that the LSRT find ways to work together harmoniously. The school system will have a plan from your school. The stakeholders must work together if they are to produce that plan themselves.
APPLICATIONS FOR SPECIAL PERMISSION FOR OUT OF BOUNDARY REGISTRATION
JANUARY 28, 2000
Please note the change it's in the second semester! Our Winter newsletter will list the special programs available in the system that you might want for your child. Charter schools have their own process. We have a list of Charter schools, but the most up-to-date information can be gotten from the Charter School Resource Center. Call them at 202 835-9011 for more information.
Parents United Executive Director and Editor of UPDATE is Delabian L. Rice-Thurston. The assistant to the Director is Loraine Wilson. Our Board of Directors consists of: Janice Autrey, Co-Chair; Sheila Carr, Co-Chair; Francesca Dixon, Treasurer; Wayne Proctor, Co-Secretary; Karalene Robbins, Co-Secretary; Brenda Artis, At-Large; Mary Filardo, At-Large; Sergio Luna, At-Large; John Pfeiffer, At-Large; Eluvia Sanchez, At-Large; Lairold Street, At-Large; Ron Stroman, At-Large; Angela Thompson-Murphy, At-Large; Meg Weekes, At-Large.
Back to top of page
Send mail with questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)