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DC Auditor Reports Improvements in Education; Large-Scale Disparities Persist

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Contact: Jack Jacobson, President, (202) 741-0888

Today the DC Auditor released a report commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences which evaluated the impact of PERAA ("Public Education Reform Amendment Act") on the educational landscape of the District. The report concluded that progress has been made in many areas, but many issues remain unaddressed.

"The report confirms what we already knew: though the District has made advancements since our school reform efforts began, there is still much work to be done across the District to ensure all students have equal access to opportunity and achievement," said Jack Jacobson, President of the State Board of Education.

Despite the improvements that have been made to the structure of DC public education, systemic issues continue to plague the city’s traditional public and public charter schools. Concerns range from equitable access to learning opportunities to the unequal distribution of highly effective educators, particularly for disadvantaged students.

"Unfortunately, this information isn’t news to those of us who live and work East of the river," said Tierra Jolly, elected representative of Ward 8 and chair of the State Board’s Closing the Achievement Gap Committee. "The State Board is committed to working with stakeholders to address the systemic inequities in our education system so that we can ensure that all of our students have access to an education that is as wonderful as they are."

The report identified the reestablishment of the Office of the Ombudsman as a "positive step" toward improving accountability for the school system. This school year, its second in operation, the Office of the Ombudsman responded to approximately 500 requests for assistance. The strong community interest in the newly reestablished office demonstrates the acute need for a neutral entity to help parents and families access information and solve problems.

"We see many of the same problems that the PERAA report highlights, including families struggling to find information about schools and who have lost trust in the system," said Ombudsman Joyanna Smith. "At the same time, we see many dedicated teachers and administrators working tirelessly to serve DC’s students. I am hopeful that this report will guide the school system toward improvements that will restore public trust and improve learning outcomes for all students."

“We are eager to work with the DC Council, the Bowser Administration, and the many other groups that have been fighting to ensure that these gaps no longer persist," Jacobson, who is also the elected representative of Ward 2, stated. "There is much work to be done in the wake of the audit, and the State Board is eager to work with stakeholders to improve outcomes for students in every corner of the District."