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Community Makes Their Voice Heard at SBOE Hearing on #ESSA

Monday, November 21, 2016
More than 25 community members signed up to testify with recommendations and suggestions on the Every Student Succeeds Act

Washington, DC – The DC State Board of Education (SBOE) held its monthly public meeting last Wednesday, hearing an outpouring of public input regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). SBOE members heard impassioned testimony from two dozen community members including parents, teachers, residents, school leaders, and policy experts that our city’s overemphasis on test scores has had a damaging effect on the quality of education. You can see find copies of the statements from each panelist here and stay connected with the SBOE’s latest work on ESSA at

The new ESSA law replaces No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and gives the District more flexibility in determining what constitutes a successful school, and what needs to be done to fix schools that are failing. If you missed the meeting, be sure to watch it online here.

“Currently, schools are rated almost entirely on reading and math test scores--and almost entirely on the proportion of students who are ‘proficient,’ regardless of how much academic progress students in the school did or didn't make,” said Ruth Wattenberg, SBOE Ward 3 Member and ESSA Committee Chair. “This approach has led to many complaints: too much focus on tests and test prep; not enough attention to other subjects and not enough attention to the practices that lead to high achievement: including providing a safe, challenging, and engaging environment.”   

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and the SBOE have been meeting with members of the community since the spring to gather feedback about the current system. The hearing on November 16 provided an opportunity for direct public input into the new system accountability plan. 

“We are ecstatic at the level of involvement,” said Jack Jacobson, SBOE President and Ward 2 Member. “Developing a new state accountability system offers us the chance to refocus our schools on the most important thing, providing our students with the best opportunities and the best education possible.”

Public engagement on the new accountability system is vital. Numerous opportunities for comment and participation with collaboration from OSSE have occurred and will continue until SBOE consideration of the final accountability plan in early 2017. For more information about ESSA, including upcoming engagement opportunities and previous meeting materials, please visit    

The State Board of Education provides policy leadership, support, advocacy, and oversight of public education to ensure that every student is valued and learns the skills and knowledge necessary to become informed, competent, and contributing global citizens. More information about the SBOE can be found at