By: Dr. Elizabeth Primas,
Program Manager, NNPA ESSA Public Awareness Campaign
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines standards as, “something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example. For example,” the Egyptians established the 365-day calendar, recording 4236 BC as the first year in recorded history. Around 1100 AD in England, it was determined that the length of King Henry Beauclerc’s foot would be used for the standard measurement of a linear foot.
These standards of time and linear measurement are still widely used and accepted today. During the Civil War, America recognized a need for standardized gauges for the railroads so that parts were easily inter-changeable. Standards continue to remain essential aspects of organization as societies increase in size and complexity. The same concept applies to academic standards in education.
In the mid-twentieth century, educators adopted academic standards. Those standards were designed to ensure that all students progressed at relatively the same pace while acquiring the skills necessary to become contributing members of society.
One example of this is the adoption of a Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) by the District of Columbia in the 1980s. CBC consisted of a series of skill sets within a hierarchy. Students were required to demonstrate mastery of the skills at one level before progressing to the next. Teachers were required to teach/test/reteach (if necessary) and then retest. Once students demonstrated mastery, they received a score that reflected such. The score did not entail how many times the teacher had to reteach and retest before the students acquired the intended skillset.
A more recent example of academic standards is the 2009 states-focused effort to create clear, consistent, and competitive learning goals, resulting in the Common Core State Standards. Common Core State Standards were adopted by 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia. The federal government supported the validity of Common Core Standards by providing financial incentives for state adoption.
Proponents of Common Core Standards argue that the standards provide students with the necessary knowledge to succeed in college and career regardless of geographical location. However, many critics have argued against this, emphasizing resulting ambiguity, lack of training, and lowered student expectations as the key points the identify a policy in need of revision. In 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act, a re-authorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA), offered a resolution.
Under ESSA, states have the option of keeping Common Core State Standards or creating their own state standards. The financial incentive to adopt Common Core by the federal government no longer exists and the option to work with a consortium of states to develop standards is also available to state educational leadership.
Guidelines set by ESSA for state-developed academic standards is a step in the right direction. ESSA allows for states to decide how to best set goals and meet the needs of students. It is obvious from the widespread criticisms of Common Core that uniform education standards have not worked. As states continue to develop academic standards they must keep this in mind, understanding that every child does not learn and/or demonstrate knowledge in the same way.
Unlike widgets, children will never fit perfectly into standardized molds. They learn to walk at different ages. They learn to talk at different ages. And each child has a different set of interests and learning style. Students’ ability to demonstrate mastery in one area over another has a lot to do with their previous knowledge and exposure to out-of-the-classroom experiences.
As a mother to many children, I have observed that some of my children are good in math, while others are musically inclined. A select few demonstrate the ability to make fantastic meals out of simple ingredients, while others have a hard time boiling water. We must understand that every child is capable of achievement at high levels as long as we encourage their strengths. Whatever their gifts and talents, we need them all.
Dr. Elizabeth Primas is an educator, who spent more than 40 years working towards improving education for children of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. Dr. Primas is the program manager for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign. Follow Dr. Primas on Twitter @elizabethprimas.
WASHINGTON — As recently as a year ago, the public school system in the nation’s capital was being hailed as a shining example of successful urban education reform and a template for districts across the country.
Now the situation in the District of Columbia could not be more different. After a series of rapid-fire scandals, including one about rigged graduation rates, Washington’s school system has gone from a point of pride to perhaps the largest public embarrassment of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s tenure.
This stunning reversal has left school administrators and city officials scrambling for answers and pledging to regain the public’s trust.
A decade after a restructuring that stripped the decision-making powers of the board of education and placed the system under mayoral control, city schools in 2017 were boasting rising test scores and a record graduation rate for high schools of 73 percent, compared with 53 percent in 2011. Glowing news articles cited examples such as Ballou High School, a campus in a low-income neighborhood where the entire 2017 graduating class applied for college.
Then everything unraveled…
An investigation by WAMU, the local NPR station, revealed that about half of those Ballou graduates had missed more than three months of school and should not have graduated due to chronic truancy. A subsequent inquiry revealed a systemwide culture that pressured teachers to favor graduation rates over all else — with salaries and job security tied to specific metrics.
The internal investigation concluded that more than one-third of the 2017 graduating class should not have received diplomas due to truancy or improper steps taken by teachers or administrators to cover the absences. In one egregious example, investigators found that attendance records at Dunbar High School had been altered 4,000 times to mark absent students as present. The school system is now being investigated by both the FBI and the U.S. Education Department, while the D.C. Council has repeatedly called for answers and accountability.
“We’ve seen a lot of dishonesty and a lot of people fudging the numbers,” said Council member David Grosso, head of the education committee, during a hearing last week. “Was it completely make-believe last year?”
During our May Public Meeting, the SBOE adopted the following equity statement:
The DC State Board of Education defines equity in education as ensuring that every student, inclusive of race, religion, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic standing, immigration status, and disability status, has the supports and resources to be successful in school. We believe these supports and resources must be child-centered, evidenced-based, and reflective of the social-emotional and academic needs of the student.
Progressing toward the goal of success for every student and reducing disparities will include monitoring student progress on standardized assessments and relevant academic and non-academic measures included in the ESSA STAR Framework and Report Cards.
By pursuing multiple measures of accountability, this system will hold all schools, school leaders, and staff to the same high expectations for progress and success for all students.
The desired outcome will be that all DC students will graduate from high school fully prepared for college and career opportunities, as engaged and active residents who are prepared to thoughtfully participate in society.
SBOE Adopts #DCGradReqs Recommendations
Task force members at the final meeting
This month, the State Board unanimously adopted the recommendations of its High School Graduation Requirements Task Force. The Board approved a resolution which sent the recommendations to OSSE for consideration. OSSE will review the recommendations expressed in the report and will continue to work with the Board on policy changes that may stem from those recommendations.
Task force members reached consensus on the following recommendations for the consideration of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to put forward into regulatory policy:
Provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate they have mastered course content for world language and mathematics in lieu of taking the course.
Reduce the number of required community service hours from 100 to 50.
Create a personalized learning plan for each public school student in the District, and revisit this plan in elementary, middle, and high school to ensure the student is on track to graduate.
Members of the 2017-18 Student Advisory Committee.
At this month’s public meeting, Student Representatives Tallya Rhodes (H.D. Woodson High School) and Tatiana Robinson (Frank W. Ballou High School) along with members of the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) presented a final report to the Board for consideration. The SAC met eight times over the course of the 2017-18 school year and selected two key topics that the SAC feels can be changed or improved in the District’s public schools. The proposals submitted by the SAC focused on college readiness and equal access to educational opportunity in the District. Working in two teams, SAC members developed a peer-to-peer mentoring program for District students and built a resource website for students looking for guidance and insight into college and career opportunities.
ESSA Task Force Continues Work on Report Card Design
Earlier this month, the ESSA Task Force met for its tenth meeting since August 2017. Representatives from OSSE updated task force members on the design of the new citywide school report card. To design a report card tool that’s helpful for parents and families, we need your help! Help spread the word to your networks by hosting an in-person session. All of the materials you need to host a successful session are available online at this engagement site. The report card is an important part of DC’s responsibilities under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and will debut in December 2018.
The Task Force will meet again on Tuesday, June 5.
SBOE Honors John Stone III & Eastern Health and Medical Sciences Academy
This month, the SBOE recognized John Stone III on his recent retirement. Our Ward 6 representative, Joe Weedon, introduced the ceremonial resolution honoring Mr. Stone’s outstanding contributions to preparing District students for careers as skilled healthcare professionals. Mr. Stone worked with students at the Eastern High School Health and Medical Sciences Academy through their Business Advisory Council for over two decades, including the past ten years as the organization’s treasurer.
Mr. Stone and members of the Eastern High School Health and Medical Sciences Academy Honored at May Public Meeting
Karthik Nemmani of McKinney, Texas, has been declared winner of the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Although Karthik, 14, didn’t win his regional spelling bee nor his county bee, he withstood the pressure of 18 rounds of back-to-back spelling in Thursday night’s finals at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Md., where he correctly spelled “koinonia” (Christian fellowship or communion, with God or, more commonly, with fellow Christians).
“I knew how to spell it the moment I heard it,” Karthik exclaimed shortly after winning the competition.
The soft-spoken Karthik, who entered the competition through a newly-instituted “wild card” program, snared the first-place $40,000 cash prize from Scripps, as well as other perks including a $2,500 prize from Merriam-Webster and a trip to New York City to appear on ABC’s “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”
Second-place honors went to Naysa Modi,12, of Dallas, who learned that just one letter made the difference in her being awarded the grand prize. Instead, she took home a $30,000 cash prize after misspelling “Bewusstseinslage” — a German-derived word meaning “a state of consciousness or a feeling devoid of sensory components” — for which she left out the second “s.”
Karthik, an 8th-grader who admitted not knowing about nine words in the finals, was complimentary of his final-round foe, calling Naysa “a really, really good speller.”
[/media-credit] Jah’Quane Graham, an 11-year-old student from the U.S Virgin Islands, seen here with parents Warren and Jamina Graham, fell short of the final round of the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
“She deserved the trophy as much as I did,” he said. “I got lucky.”
He added that having friends like Naysa in the competition helped.
“I guess [they] gave me a little more confidence,” Karthik said.
The field for this year’s bee, with 516 spellers ages 8 to 15 from the United States and several countries, was the largest in its 91-year history.
Washington Informer-sponsored spellers Noah Dooley, Robert Foster and Simon Kirschenbaum didn’t make it to the finals and neither were immediately available for comment.
However, as a first-time Scripps participant, 11-year-old Jah’Quane Graham from St. Croix, U.S Virgin Islands, also missed out competing in Thursday and Friday’s rounds. Yet, he smiled good-naturedly, saying he still enjoyed the participation.
“I was glad I got the chance to be in the national bee,” he said. “I practiced spelling a lot of words but didn’t get in the final rounds [Wednesday] which disqualified me from further participation. But I plan to keep entering until I can’t be in it anymore. Best of all, I got a free trip to Washington, D.C., and I can’t wait to see the White House.”
Student Advocate Presents Q3 Report at Working Session
Washington, DC – On Tuesday, June 5, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) will hold its next Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Task Force meeting at 6:00 p.m. in Room 1117 at 441 4th St NW. Representatives from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) will provide a final update on the proposed design of the new citywide school report card. Task force members will then break out into committee work related to leadership, academic rigor, school resources and funding equity, and school environment.
Members of the public may attend and observe all task force meetings, but are not permitted to speak or participate during these sessions. Individuals and representatives of organizations may submit written testimony or information for consideration by the task force by emailing email@example.com. The task force meeting will be streamed live via Periscope for those community members who are unable to attend in person.
On Wednesday, June 6, the SBOE will hold its monthly working session at 5:00 p.m. in Room 1114 at 441 4th Street NW. During this working session, the Office of the Student Advocate will provide a quarterly report on their progress assisting District families. Board members will also review proposed draft regulations for credit recovery from OSSE.
The Chief Student Advocate and her team help District families navigate the complex public education system. By supporting and empowering District residents, the Office of the Student Advocate strives to bring equal access to public education. In a continuation of its work with the Board on statewide credit recovery regulations, OSSE will present draft regulations for review. These regulations will be issued for public comment in the coming months.
Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe this working session. However, individuals and representatives of organizations may not speak or participate during the working session. Individuals and representatives of organizations may submit written testimony for consideration by the SBOE. Written testimony may also be submitted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The draft agenda for the working session is below. Please note that the agenda may be altered, modified or updated without notice.
I. Call to Order
II. Announcement of a Quorum
III. Student Advocate Quarter 3 Report
IV. Credit Recovery Regulations
V. Committee Updates
VI. Other Discussion
VII. Ombudsman Report
VIII. Executive Director’s Report
More information about the SBOE can be found at sboe.dc.gov.
By Frank Kineavy, Special to The Informer via DiversityInc
“Given the legal mandate, it is surprising that such a large proportion of students are consistently placed in restrictive settings,” said Matthew Brock, an assistant professor of special education at The Ohio State University who worked on the study. Brock’s study will be published in the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
During the ’90s and the first decade of the 21st century the education world has pushed for school districts to integrate students with intellectual disabilities into mainstream or regular education settings. By 2010, 18 percent of students with intellectual disabilities were spending at least 80 percent of their day in general education classes, but that has leveled off. In his report, Brock admitted that it is not realistic to have all students with disabilities be exclusively in general education classes, but he thinks “we need to find opportunities for all kids to spend some time with peers who don’t have disabilities if we are going to follow the spirit and letter of the law.”
Liza Long, a mental health advocate and author of “The Price of Silence: A Mom’s Perspective on Mental Illness,” in an op-ed compared fighting for the rights of children to being in a war. As tragic mass shootings in schools gained more prevalence in the American media, parents of neuro-typical students have been wary of their children being in the same classroom as students with both intellectual disabilities and behavioral disorders. But this practice only attaches an even greater stigma to students with intellectual disabilities.
According to Long, “What is the logical consequence of taking 100 students with behavioral and emotional symptoms between the ages of 12 to 21, 95% of whom are male, and putting them together in a program that will not allow them to earn a high school diploma or to learn to interact with neurotypical peers?
“In our society, too often the consequence is prison.”
So what is the answer? Schools must fight against the disorder by equipping themselves with proper treatment plans and early prevention strategies which could change the trajectory of a student’s future from a life of uncertainty and despair to becoming a productive member of society.
Thanks to comedian-turned-talk show host Steve Harvey, an office superstore is donating a $5,000 gift card to a Washington, D.C. public charter school for Black and Latino boys that is opening this summer.
The school will use the gift card from Office Depot for school supplies and printing needs. On the episode of the “Steve Harvey Show” that aired May 11, Harvey said the gift wouldstart the school off on the right foot.
“I like this man, I think what you’re doing is great,” Harvey told the school’s leadership team on his show. “… What you’re doing is essential and I congratulate you.”
The school’s five founders appeared on the show to explain the school’s mission and what they hope to achieve once it opens. Founded in 2018, the school, at 3701 Hayes Street NE, opens Aug. 20 with 85 fourth grade boys.
It’ll add a grade every year, ending with eighth grade. The school pays for the boys’ school supplies and uniforms and raises money for extras, like a planned eight-grade trip to Africa, Europe and South America to learn about the slave trade. The trip will follow a five-year unit focused on the Middle Passage.
“We have promised to provide school supplies and materials free of charge so that our students and their parents and teachers don’t have that as a distraction to their learning and their work,” Shawn Hardnett, the school’s founder and executive director told the AFRO via e-mail. “…At North Star Academy for Boys, that won’t be a problem for parents. That $5,000 dollars from the Office Max/Depot from the Steve Harvey show will be used to support that.”
The school is housed within the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy, for now, and founders are scouting a permanent location.
The school was launched after the founders polled African-American and Latino boys, observed public, private and parochial schools across America, talked to successful Black and Hispanic men and culled national research to figure how to open a school nurtures these boys and turns them into future leaders.
Hardnett said it all starts with having high expectations for these boys.
“The boys continued to say in various ways, ‘Love us, don’t be afraid of us. Build relationships with us and then have an expectation for us,’” Hardnett told Harvey. “People rise to the occasion. What they were saying is ‘Create an occasion for us to rise to and we’ll get there.’”
Craig echoed those sentiments.
“In order to build a school for Black and Brown boys, we have to build a school withBlack and Brown boys,” he told Harvey.
A group of nine young leaders from East Bay schools, organized and led by Regina Jackson of East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC), will participate in the “March for Our Lives” demonstration for an end to gun violence Saturday in Washington, D.C.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee urged Jackson to organize the delegation so that Oakland would have a presence in the historic march. Lee contributed money to pay for part of the trip, and a micro-grant covered the rest.
“Recently we did a listening session with Oakland Lee about gun violence. She asked me to coordinate the student delegation. I will be leading the group of students, who have all been affected by gun violence, ages 13-18,” said Jackson.
Members of the EOYDC delegation: Damoni Nears, senior at Moreau Catholic High; Destiny Shabazz, senior at McClymonds High; Devlynn Nolan, senior at Castlemont High; Jada White, 8th grader at Edna Brewer Middle; Khali Walker, freshman at Castlemont High; Kia Hanson, senior at Fremont High; Nala Lazimba, 8th grader at Alliance Academy; Rasheem Haskins, sophomore at Skyline High; and Ramaj Walker, junior at Envision Academy.
Organizers of the Washington D.C. march are students from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and adults died.
The young Oakland leaders spoke about how gun violence has impacted their lives.
“I have first-hand experience with gun violence,” said Jada White, aged 13.
“I lost my father when I was just a baby. I am going to the march to share my experience and my hope for stronger gun education and policy.”
Seventeen-year-old Kia Hanson said, “I lost my brother to gun violence. My pain is real every day. I am going to the march to represent him and my hope that no one ever have to experience a tragedy like mine ever again.”
The young people plan to write a blog about the march after they return draft some language for bills to be considered at the state and federal level.
Over 800 rallies and marches are scheduled across the country Saturday in solidarity with the protest in Washington, D.C. In the Bay Areas, marches are planned for San Jose and San Francisco.
A rally will be held Saturday morning at 10 a.m. in front of City Hall in Oakland, and then attendees will go by BART to join forces with marchers in San Francisco.
WASHINGTON — Hundreds of thousands marched in the nation’s capital and across the world to commemorate those killed by gun violence and to demand more effective gun control legislation.
[/media-credit] Thousands of demonstrators participate in the “March for Our Lives” rally in D.C. on March 24 to demand stricter gun control.
The march, titled March for Our Lives, was led by teenagers and survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
To honor the 17 victims of the February shooting, one of the speakers read their names, “Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Nicholas Dworet, Jaime Guttenberg …” He saved the name of one student, Nicholas Dworet, for last because Saturday would have been his 18th birthday.
The crowd chanted “Never again,” and “Everyday shootings are everyday problems.”
People from across the nation traveled to Washington in support of the cause. One of them was Brianna Richardson, who came from Newtown, Conn., the site of the deadliest public school shooting in America. In 2012, Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children between 6 and 7 years old, as well as six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Richardson, whose father is the president of Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Department, said the incident inspired her to become a nurse.
“I want to help people live happy healthy lives, so that one day we don’t have people who feel so sadly that they have to do these things,” she said. After the tragedy, Richardson began volunteering and pushing for change, as well.
Organizers estimate 800,000 people attended the march in Washington. Numerous celebrities, including Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Hudson, Arianna Grande, George Clooney, Common and Demi Lovato joined the demonstration.
Students and survivors of the Parkland shooting joined with students across the nation and celebrities to share their testimonies on the main stage. There was also a six-minute moment of silence for the time it took to kill the 17 victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
One of the speakers on the main stage was the granddaughter of civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“I have a dream that enough is enough and that this should be a gun free world, period,” 9-year-old Yolanda Renee King said.
The crowd at the march was very emotional and many were teary-eyed at the remarks made by the speakers.
Amber Kelly, a teen mother, stood in the crowd with her son and expressed the worry she has for her son attending school.
Thousands of demonstrators participate in the “March for Our Lives” rally in D.C. on March 24 to demand stricter gun control.
“I’m more so scared for my son than myself,” Kelly said. “I don’t have the money to send my child to private school or homeschool him. How can I feel comfortable sending my son to school if I know there’s a possibility he could be shot?”
Helena Ristic, 24, is originally from Serbia. She said she decided to join the march to support the young people leading the event and to help end gun violence.
“I think this event shows that even though they’re kids, they can still make change,” Ristic said. “We all want gun violence to end.”
Lots of children were there with their parents. Many held signs and walked alongside their families.
Zachary Hill, 8, walked with his mom and two siblings and was excited he could be a part of this movement.
“I’m really happy we’re making a change for the future,” Hill said.
Aalayah Eastmond, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, urged people not to lose focus on the fact that most gun violence happens in black and Latino neighborhoods.
“It doesn’t only happen in schools,” Eastmond said. “It’s been happening in urban communities forever.”
Naomi Wadler, 11, also took to the main stage with a similar message, ensuring that people of color are not left out of the conversation.
“For far too long, these black girls and women have been just numbers,” said Wadler, a fifth grader who organized a walkout at her elementary school in Alexandria, Va., earlier this month.
“I urge everyone here and everyone who hears my voice to join me in telling the stories that aren’t told, to honor the girls, the women of color who are murdered at disproportionate rates in this nation.”
Shannon Douglas traveled four hours from Virginia Beach, Va., to participate in the demonstration.
“People aren’t taking this seriously,” Douglas said. “The Second Amendment was meant to protect your property and yourself. You don’t need an AK-47 or an SK to protect yourself. A simple handgun can do that.”
Douglas named two of the types of assault rifles protestors want banned. Supporters of gun control are also pushing for the ban of Bump stocks, an accessory that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire much more rapidly.
“We call BS” was another popular chant and the topic of the signs held by the
Leaders of the march insisted that the event was a call to action, so volunteers lined the streets to register people to vote so they can elect government officials who will support stronger gun control and remove those who do not.
“Vote them out,” an activist pleaded to the crowd.
Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the March For Our Lives rally against gun violence in Washington, D.C. Organized by the survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it was a rally by students for students, but they were joined by thousands of educators who amplified their message — #neveragain. Hundreds of sister marches were held across the country and around the world.
Connecticut Educators March for Students
Busloads of educators came from all over the country to support the Florida students and students all over the country who demand to be heard. Taking part was a group of educators from Connecticut, where the shooting that killed 26 elementary school children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton is still raw.
“We have to do something with our gun laws, and we have to be vigilant. Talking and talking about it doesn’t change anything and we need to act. Our kids don’t feel safe,” said Mia Dimbo, a middle school math teacher from Bridgeport as she prepared to march to the site of the rally in Washington. “We need support for mental health. We don’t have enough resources for psychologists and counselors, and there’s so much trauma our kids are dealing with. They should not be afraid when coming to school. Today I march for our kids and our teachers…”