D.C. EDUCATION BRIEFS: Extended-Year Efforts Hindered by Absences

DCPS’s implementation of extended class time last year at some elementary and middle schools may be in jeopardy.

According to a recent WAMU report, school system data shows that once classes ended for traditional students, their peers enrolled in the extended-year program stopped attending school as well.

While the goal was to add classroom time for students to counter a regression in learning that often happens during summer breaks, officials noticed that during the regular school year, daily absences at the extended year elementary schools ranged between 5 and 10 percent of students. However, once the summer break began for the regular DCPS students, the percentage of daily absences at extended year schools doubled and, in some cases, tripled.

ESSA Task Force Update

The DC State Board of Education’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) task force held its third meeting earlier this month, where they continued to devise education policy recommendations related to the District’s implementation of ESSA.

During the meeting, task force member Josh Boots of EmpowerK12 presented information on 2017 PARCC data for the District, and representatives from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education provided an overview of the report card creation process.

The task force has also begun holding focus groups across the District to ensure families are informed about the new state education plan and the work of the group. Their next meeting will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Innovation Grants

In recognition of International Day of the Girl Child on Oct. 11, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson announced innovation grants for 12 schools as part of “Reign: Empowering Young Women as Leaders,” a multi-pronged initiative to support young women of color.

The grants, which aim to build community, confidence, and leadership skills in young women of color, will also help address disparities in student satisfaction, graduation rates, and PARCC scores.

“We need to ensure that at every level — every step along the way — we are sending the message to our young women of color that they can achieve at the highest levels,” Bowser said. “We built Reign based on feedback from the young women in our schools, and these grants are the next step in continuing to shape the initiative so that it meets their needs and addresses the disparities that contribute to the opportunity and achievement gaps, particularly as they relate to race and gender.”

Equity Funding

Mayor Muriel Bowser recently joined Chancellor Antwan Wilson to announce the “Excellence through Equity” funding initiative, a $2.6 million investment that will support efforts to close the achievement gap.

All 115 of D.C.’s public schools received funding based on the number and concentration of students who scored Level 1 or 2 on the 2017 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers assessment.

Last school year, DCPS boasted record gains in the number of students scoring a 4 or 5 on PARCC, including increases of 6.4 percent in English language arts and 3.5 percent in math.

All-Boys Schools Celebrates First Year

With social-emotional skills being the foundation of learning at D.C.’s Ron Brown College Preparatory High School, each of the students at the all-male school are referred to as “kings.”

The school, which cost roughly $60 million to construct, recently celebrated its first year as the capital city’s first all-male traditional public school.

According to Education Week, the school’s faculty works with an almost single-minded focus on establishing a school culture and ethos that few of the kings, and in many cases even teachers, have ever experienced.

Sometimes they are met with resistance from both parents and students, but overall, “[the students] feel like it’s a place where they can take chances, where they can grow,” said Principal Benjamin Williams.

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Dorothy Rowley – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I knew I had to become a writer when at age nine I scribbled a note to my younger brother’s teacher saying I thought she was being too hard on him in class. Well, the teacher immediately contacted my mother, and with tears in her eyes, profusely apologized. Of course, my embarrassed mother dealt with me – but that didn’t stop me from pursuing my passion for words and writing. Nowadays, as a “semi-retiree,” I continue to work for the Washington Informer as a staff writer. Aside from that, I keep busy creating quirky videos for YouTube, participating in an actor’s guild and being part of my church’s praise dance team and adult choir. I’m a regular fixture at the gym, and I like to take long road trips that have included fun-filled treks to Miami, Florida and Jackson, Mississippi. I’m poised to take to the road again in early 2017, headed for New Orleans, Louisiana. This proud grandmother of two – who absolutely adores interior decorating – did her undergraduate studies at Virginia Union University and graduate work at Virginia State University.

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