President Barack Obama signs the Every Student Succeeds Act into law in December 2015. (Official White House photo)

The DC State Board of Education voted on March 22 to approve the final state plan for the federally mandated Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The state plan, drafted by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education with significant input from the State Board of Education, not only gives the District more flexibility advancing educational excellence, it also provides assistance to schools so that each student has the opportunity for success.

“We want to thank OSSE for their collaborative work with the state board on ESSA,” said Karen Williams, SBOE president and Ward 7 representative. “This approval puts us on a path to having a common system across all D.C. traditional public schools and charter schools that will be incredibly beneficial and powerful for all stakeholders involved.”

In early 2016, SBOE and OSSE embarked on a yearlong joint effort to develop a new accountability system under ESSA that aimed to meet the needs of all District public school students. This state-approved plan significantly reduces the weight of assessments from current levels while still ensuring academic rigor and achievement.

Charter School Applications

The DC Public Charter School Board recently accepted eight applications to open a new public charter school in D.C.

The proposals include two elementary schools, two middle schools, a high school, two adult schools and a hybrid high school and adult school. If approved, the public charter schools would open during the 2018-19 school year.

The board will be accepting public comment on the applications through April 25. Interested parties can submit public comment via email to, or by U.S. mail at ATTN: Public Comment, DC Public Charter School Board, 3333 14th Street, NW, Suite 210, Washington, DC 20010.

Each applicant group will also have an April 24 public hearing at 6 p.m. The board will vote on each proposal May 22.

DCPS Goes to College

Banneker High School senior Doctanian Batts has many interests — with plans to study them all. Doctanian will be attending North Carolina A&T next year where he wants to study criminal justice, psychology, and entrepreneurship.

He believes criminal justice in particular would be an important way to give back, saying it’s something he feels strongly about after sitting in one of his history classes.

“I don’t want to study it and not do anything about it,” said Doctanian, a member of the National Honor Society.

Wilson High School senior Rachel Page will go to Columbia University next year. Page says that some of the most interesting classes she took in high school were Latin American Studies and African Studies because she had the opportunity to explore topics with classmates from across the district. She also took AP courses each year, including Spanish Language, AP Chemistry, and AP Comparative Government.

Black Males Initiative

The Empowering Men of Color initiative is an expansion of the original 500 for 500 Mentoring Through Literacy program, which focused on having mentors provide literacy support to students in groups and individually, often through established partnerships such as For Love of Children, Reading Partners and Higher Achievement.

DCPS officials continue to expand their reach beyond the original 500 target to capture more possibilities for meaningful adult-student relationships and evidence based practice.

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