The D.C. State Board of Education [SBOE] continued its months-long endeavor to revamp the STAR Framework with the release of a survey that parents and community members completed about the mechanism that determines the performance of each District public and public charter school.
SBOE Representative Ruth Wattenberg (Ward 3), who’s spearheading these efforts with At-large SBOE Representative Jacque Patterson, recounted learning from parents and SBOE colleagues alike that the STAR Framework in its current state doesn’t take into account student growth.
She said the singular focus on raw test data and school attendance often disadvantages schools with a large at-risk population. With the quantitative and qualitative data collected from parents, teachers and other stakeholders, SBOE members hope to develop ideas for a new STAR Framework that measures and displays school performance with improved criteria.
“We’ll have our draft recommendations in time for our December public meeting and we’ll vote on them in January. The recommendations are for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education [OSSE] which has the authority to ask the Education Department to change the way we report on schools,” Wattenberg said.
“What we hope is that OSSE will take these recommendations seriously. We hope that the strength of our argument will have an impact. We hope to work with OSSE to turn the recommendations into proposed changes,” she said.
During her November 12 confirmation hearing before the D.C. Council Committee of the Whole, Acting State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant expressed a commitment to revisit the STAR Framework and take into consideration what SBOE presents.
In 2018, OSSE included the STAR Framework in its DC School Report Card, a tool that parents use to inform enrollment decisions. Both tools count among key provisions of Every Student Succeeds Act, a federal law that requires U.S. schools teach at high academic standards geared toward college and career readiness.
Federally-mandated data, like that found in the DC School Report Card, has been intended to assist parents, students, educators and lawmakers in pushing for improvements to the lowest-performing schools in their communities. In years past, District schools that ranked in the bottom five percent of the STAR Framework received $11 million in grants over the course of three years.
On the STAR Framework, each District public and public charter school has a chance to accumulate 100 points, or five stars, depending on how their students measure in relation to their peers across the city. Data points on the STAR Framework include student performance on the PARCC, SAT and other standardized tests, English language proficiency, elements of school environment including attendance and re-enrollment rates, graduation rates and student academic growth as measured by PARCC.
Due to the pandemic and OSSE’s petition for waive PARCC, elements of the current STAR Framework don’t reflect the most up-to-date information. Over the last 18 months, as officials and teachers navigated an evolving education landscape, questions about holistic student growth and school equity have snowballed into efforts to revisit the STAR Framework which has been deemed detrimental to schools located east of the Anacostia River.
While Patterson, a Ward 8 resident, charter school leader and parent of children in DC Public Schools, said all of his SBOE colleagues have spoken with constituents, he credited SBOE Representatives Eboni-Rose Thompson (Ward 7) and Dr. Carlene Reid (Ward 8) with taking the time to reach all corners of their wards to give voice to those rarely included in the public record.
In regards to the STAR Framework, Patterson said he wanted a document that focused on more than numbers and stars. He expressed a desire for a tool that parents could use to better hold their schools accountable.
The status quo, Patterson said, doesn’t meet the mark.
“I’m looking forward to bringing equitable metrics [and] making sure we have indicators that show the support needed for schools east of the Anacostia River,” Patterson said. “The current framework doesn’t indicate what their needs are. It rates them by stars but it doesn’t speak to a school’s needs. A parent can’t hold a school accountable. All things are equitable in funding but not in resources.”