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Accountability and Assessment

About the Accountability and Assessment Standing Committee

The Accountability and Assessment Committee monitors and provides recommendations related to: 

  1. The state accountability plan for the District of Columbia developed by the Chief State School Officer. 
  2. The categories and format of the annual report card, pursuant to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
  3. The approval of state rules for enforcing school attendance requirements. 
  4. The rules for residency verification.
Co-chairs: Ruth Wattenberg, Ward 3; Jacque Patterson, At-Large
Members: Jessica Sutter, Ward 6; Carlene Reid, Ward 8; Zachary Parker; Ward 5
Meeting Information:
Find the joining information for the State Board’s Accountability and Assessment committee meetings on our events page.
All committee meetings are recorded and uploaded to the State Board’s YouTube channel. Minutes are posted here. Learn more about committee assignments here.

Statewide Accountability Plan and LEA School Report Card under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

The State Board is responsible for approving the District of Columbia’s statewide accountability plan. That plan, which is required by federal law, promotes transparency and provides important information for parents, policymakers, and education stakeholders. The State Board is also responsible for approving the criteria for local education agency (LEA) school report cards. These report cards, which provide information about school performance, environment, and other relevant characteristics, are required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.

 

What is ESSA? 

 

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a law administered by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) that requires all states to develop educational accountability measurements for all public K-12 schools nationally. ESSA replaced the previous No Child Left Behind Act and required all 50 states and the District of Columbia to create state plans to measure individual schools’ success at preparing students for college and/or careers. In the District, that means developing an accountability system for DC public and charter schools that demonstrates how well schools are performing, using academic performance and other factors.

 

What information is required for all state ESSA plans?

 

  • Public K-12 schools must document academic achievement, as measured by state standardized test scores in English and math;
  • Elementary and middle school ratings must indicate how they measure growth, both overall and for specific groups of students;
  • High schools must publish their progress toward proficiency and four-year graduation rates. 
     

 

Timeline

  • The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a law administered by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) that requires all states to develop educational accountability measurements for all public K-12 schools nationally. ESSA replaced the previous No Child Left Behind Act and required all 50 states and the District of Columbia to create state plans to measure individual schools’ success at preparing students for college and/or careers. In the District, that means developing an accountability system for DC public and charter schools that demonstrates how well schools are performing, using academic performance and other factors.

  • The State Board heard from a variety of panelists, including parents, community members, and subject matter experts, on testimony related to school quality and student success, the potential impact of ESSA on vulnerable students, state leadership and implementation challenges, and more.

  • On January 30, 2017, OSSE released its initial draft of the District’s state education plan.

    Throughout February 2017, the State Board and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) co-hosted 9 community meetings in all eight wards of the District to provide information about ESSA and to solicit feedback on OSSE's initial draft of the District’s state education plan, to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education by April 3, 2017. Over 300 community members, parents, students, and advocates attended these meetings to provide feedback.

  • In early March, the State Board developed ten recommendations for the final accountability plan. Overall, the recommendations reflect the consensus of the State Board that the weight of test scores should be reduced and additional non-testing measures that encourage a well-rounded education be added.

    On March 17, OSSE released the final version of the complete draft state plan and on March 22, the State Board held a special public meeting to approve the final state plan for ESSA.

  • At the May 17, 2017 public meeting, members approved the creation of a new ESSA Task Force, which advised the State Board for a two-year period. At this time, the next step was the development of a comprehensive LEA school report card. The goal was to approve a report card that ensures that parents no longer have to search for essential information across multiple websites. The State Board also set out to work with the Mayor and Council to ensure that these report cards are accessible (508 compliant) and translated into all of the languages required by the Language Access Act.

    On July 10, the State Board opened applications for the ESSA Task Force. To ensure a balance of perspectives, the State Board chose Task Force members who would represent a broad constituency and contribute meaningfully to education policy recommendations related to the state accountability plan. Task Force members included parents, community leaders, education agency leaders, students, teachers, school leaders, and nonprofit personnel who work in relevant fields. The selection committee strived to ensure membership was proportionately representative to the backgrounds of the students in the District.

    In keeping with the State Board’s commitment to transparency, all applications for the Task Force were open to public review:

    • SBOE opened application period on July 10, 2017

    • Application period concluded at 12 p.m. on July 24, 2017

    • SBOE Educational Excellence and Equity Committee reviewed all applications over a two-week period

    • Selected members announced on August 7, 2017

  • Over the course of two years, subcommittees addressed school report cards, an access and opportunity measure, a high school growth measure, and school climate pilots. Task Force meetings continued on a monthly basis for the duration of the members’ two-year commitment. The task force conducted its work under the leadership of former Ward 4 representative Dr. Lannette Woodruff, from August 2017 through June 2018. SBOE Ward 7 representative Karen Williams led the task force from September 2018 through conclusion in June 2019.

    List of members and meeting archives: ESSA Task Force

  • In February 2018, the State Board voted to approve the content proposal submitted by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in SR18-3. OSSE was tasked to complete the final design of the report card by December 2018.

  • Members from the task force presented a final report to the State Board at the June 2019 public meeting. The report contains an overview of task force activities and outlines recommendations from each of the task force’s three committees.

    Academic Equity Committee Recommendations

    • Support additional targeted research to ensure equitable outcomes

    • Encourage the Council to memorialize, via legislation, a plan to adequately fund schools within three years, as there is limited funding available to improve comprehensive support schools

    • Call on the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) to draft a comprehensive “equity action plan” that includes analysis of all educational inputs and outcomes to reduce gaps in academic rigor, growth, and achievement between different student groups

    Leading for Equity Committee Recommendations

    • Offer additional support to lower-rated schools not already eligible for support

    • Promote partnerships with external organizations to build capacity and enhance the capabilities of school leadership

    • Support rigorous research that identifies cost-effective policies and programs

    • Provide additional targeted technical assistance to LEAs and schools regarding creative uses of at-risk and other federal resources

    School Resources and Funding Equity Committee Recommendations

    • Work to support best practices and more standardized implementation with respect to how school funding and expenses are reported to the public

    • Identify high-leverage budget line items tied to equitable outcomes

    • Publicly report additional budget data on the DC School Report Card

  • 2019

    At the March 2019 public meeting, Board members passed SR19-5, which established that the State Board will focus its research efforts on six items, one of them being to review the STAR Framework. Since being formally established by SR19-11, this committee examined and reviewed how school quality is measured under the District’s STAR Framework, alternative ideas and options for such measurement, and the strengths and weaknesses of these measures.

    In 2019, the State Board heard from many members of the community on ideas for improving the STAR Framework, with a specific focus on how the District of Columbia could best include a measure of academic growth in its high schools. At present, the District of Columbia measures and reports academic growth in the STAR Framework for its elementary schools, and growth factors into those schools’ overall summative “star rating.” However, growth is not similarly measured in high school: differences in the required tests create challenges with establishing a valid set of measurements.

    The State Board convened two expert panels on the subject of measuring school quality at the April and May public meetings. In April, professors of education and representatives from education nonprofit organizations testified about different ways to measure high school growth, including using Advanced Placement and/or International Baccalaureate exams, PARCC-based measures, a proposed PSAT-to-SAT test progression, and value-added models. In May, representatives from District schools testified to their experiences with the STAR Framework and offered recommendations based on that experience. In June 2019, representatives from OSSE attended the State Board’s working session to present a preliminary proposal on the incorporation of an academic growth measure at the high school level.

    2020

    In 2020, continuing its work towards recommending changes to the current framework, the State Board’s Research Committee heard from D.C.-based and national researchers and experts on school measurement, and public witnesses about their views and recommendations on the STAR Framework. The Board adopted a resolution calling for the framework to be adjusted to minimize bias and for the Board to review other concerns and recommend other ways to improve the STAR Framework.

    At the May and June public meeting, the State Board members invited panelists to discuss ways to measure school quality as part of our effort to recommend improvements to D.C.’s STAR school rating system. Panelists were: Aaron Cuny, Founder and Principal at UpliftEd School Services, Betsy Wolf, Research Scientist at the Institute of Education Sciences, Robert Simmons III, Executive Director of the Black Educators Initiative at Urban Teachers, Erin Roth, Director of Education Research at the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor, and Josh Boots, Founder and Executive Director of EmpowerK12, Constance Lindsay, Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina and Research Associate at The Urban Institute, and Jonathan Supovitz, Director at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, University of Pennsylvania.

    Among their various, sometimes differing ideas:

    • Schools are being penalized for factors beyond their control.

    • Low ratings are a cause of great stress at high poverty schools, often spurring higher turnover levels.

    • If D.C. is to keep the STAR Framework, then D.C. should consider establishing new, equity-focused design principles, including revising student groupings and weights.

    • Adjust elements of the rating formula, including re-enrollment, proficiency, and growth to better reflect school quality.

    • Measurement of student growth may offer a more accurate measure of school quality.

    • Consider how some states offer a “dashboard” of information on school quality as opposed to a single rating.

    • Consider adding “leading indicators” to the framework that would identify whether schools have adopted practices likely to lead to the future, even if they haven’t yet led to higher proficiency levels.

  • After months of expert testimony and public feedback, the State Board passed SR20-11 “On Improving the School Transparency and Reporting (STAR) Framework” at the September public meeting. This resolution recommended adjusting and/or enhancing how the District measures and/or reports school quality so that the STAR rating minimizes undeserved bias against schools with large numbers of at-risk students groups, and for further discussions and research on how the rating or reporting could reflect a broader view of school quality and indicators that could do so. The resolution also called for a continuation of soliciting public input on issues surrounding the STAR Framework. The resolution lastly called for the Research Committee to prepare further recommendations for a future vote.

  • At the December 16, 2020 public meeting, State Board representatives voted to approve an interim report of the Research Committee, primarily directed to the new members of the State Board joining in January 2021. This report attempts to assemble the most central data, testimony, concerns, options, and pro/con arguments considered by the Research Committee. But as an interim report, the concerns and arguments made below must therefore be considered “interim.” Some of the arguments made in this report may be found wanting as all State Board members learn more and as new State Board members and the public weigh in. Moreover, the discussions summarized are grist for ultimate judgments; as the State Board moves towards recommendations for revisions to the STAR Framework, different members, as well as the public, will weigh different values more or less heavily in considering the inherent trade-offs of different options. The State Board expects to continue this discussion on the STAR Framework with Board members, experts, and members of the general public. Read the full report here and find the full Appendix here.

  • The Assessment and Accountability Committee was established through SR21-2 in February 2021. This committee builds upon the work of the Research committee, and is formally charged with monitoring and providing recommendations related to:

    • The state accountability plan for the District of Columbia developed by the Chief State School Officer.
    • The categories and format of the annual report card, pursuant to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
    • Approve state rules for enforcing school attendance requirements.
    • The rules for residency verification.

     

    Presently, the Committee is working to recommend changes to Accountability Framework:

    • A. Identify the indicators that should be included in the Accountability Framework that will serve as tools for stakeholders to understand and hold their schools accountable.
    • B. Identify the weights/formula that should be used to determine the bottom 5% of schools, per ESSA requirements.
    • C. Determine whether that set of weights/formula should be applied to full set of schools and, if so, how that will be reported

Residency Verification Rules

Under District of Columbia law, the State Board is responsible for oversight of the residency verification process, including approval to changes in residency verification rules.

In 2017, the State Board approved OSSE’s new residency verification process, which included a two-part test for residency (establish a physical presence in the District and submitting valid documentation), protections for vulnerable populations, a mechanism for determining residency in various formal and informal custodial situations, and an option for a streamlined residency verification process for K-12 students.

In 2008 and 2009, the State Board approved changes to the rules that would allow schools to enroll students and start the residency verification process earlier in the year. This allows school leaders more time to identify their incoming students before summer vacation and affords more planning time in advance of the school year.