Wednesday, 12 Dec 2018
News

Star Rating Shows Schools in BC Most Needs Help


Some of the worst-performing schools in the district are concentrated east of the Anacostia River, according to a scoring system unveiled on Friday that gives schools in the city one to five stars. According to data published by the Office of the Superintendent of Education, five of the ten public schools – conventional or chartered – are in the bottom 5% of the evaluation. The Superintendent's Office will split $ 11 million in federal grants between these 10 schools over the next three years to improve them, said Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang. [Is your school worth one star or five? D.C. officials approve new rating system.] Kang's office had previously sent improvement grants to about 30 schools, but will focus on the poorest schools in the next few years. "We know that this type of important and sustained investment is what it takes to help a school improve," said Kang. The 10 schools that will receive grants accounted for 19 to 9% of all schools, which received a star under the new system.
WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 7: DC Chartered Public School Council Executive Director, Scott Pearson, reviews school ratings at a press conference announcing the DC Report Card at Tubman Elementary School in Washington DC December 7, 2018. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount / The Washington Post) Three-star rating was assigned to 36% of schools. Seventeen schools earned five stars, according to the Superintendent's office. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) noted at a press conference at the Tubman Elementary School in Columbia Heights that each district of the district had four-star schools. "There are schools in every neighborhood that work at a high level," said Bowser. "If we know that some schools are facing problems and need interventions, we have a common framework to discuss these challenges and interventions." Charter Schools fared better on the star rating system than the city's traditional public schools: 67 percent of the charters and 60 percent of the city's traditional public schools received a rating of three stars or more. Amanda Alexander, Acting Chancellor of Public Schools, said her office plans to work with the lowest-ranking administrators.
schools to identify the resources they may need. "Every school is unique," said Alexander. "Every school has its own context, its own strengths and weaknesses. We want to work very closely with them. Scott Pearson, Executive Director of the Public School School Board, noted that only five charter schools received a one-star rating. Three of these schools, he said, are being reviewed by the Charter School Board this year. "Each of these schools, as independent public charter schools, needs to define their own path of improvement," he said. District education officials developed the grading system after the implementation of the "Every Student Succeeds" 2015 Law of the Barack Obama Administration, which requires states and the district to create records. consistent and easily accessible for schools by the end of the year. Federal law requires that certain data, including standardized test scores and graduation rates, be an important part of the measures.[[[[Can schools be ranked fairly on a five-star system? D.C. is about to try.]In the district, standardized test scores – and their potential improvement – account for 70% of the rankings of elementary and middle schools. For high schools, test scores account for about 40% of the mark. The rankings also reflect the effectiveness with which schools educate students from under-served populations, including English-language learners. It also takes into account the percentage of students who re-enroll in school, as well as participation and performance in Advanced Placement courses and AP exams. Education officials rated the schools using a numerical scale of up to 100 points. This was then converted to number of stars. Benjamin Banneker High of Northwest was the most successful school with 99 points. The Anacostia High School in the Southeast got the lowest score, with around 3 points. Critics have argued that the district's emphasis on test scores would ensure that the highest grades go to schools that teach the richest students and the saddle schools that serve the poorest children, even though schools are improving. Scott Goldstein, executive director of EmpowerEd DC, a teacher advocacy group, worries that star rating only worsens inequities and punishes schools with more students considered at risk – defined as those who are homeless, receive social coupons struggled in high school. Parents, he said, may neglect schools that have a lot to offer because they are poorly rated. For example, Roosevelt High School, where Goldstein once taught, offers a bilingual program and offers artistic, extracurricular and professional opportunities that many parents might be looking for. He encouraged parents to visit a school and determine if the teachers and the school principal are resuming their positions from year to year. Leadership stability, he says, can indicate growth. "My fear is that parents are looking at these scores and may not be aware of these schools," Goldstein said. The scoring system is one of the aspects of a larger report card that families can access online or in print form and that details the experience and retention of teachers, rates of student discipline and other factors. District officials said the scorecard provides families with a clear and accessible way to assess a school's performance. The scoring system was developed with the participation of thousands of parents and other members of the community. According to Bowser, the report card provides families with "a set of common, reliable and transparent data. . . that families can use to choose the school or schools that are best for their children. ".

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