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SBOE Approves Final #ESSA Accountability Plan

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Washington, DC - Last night, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) voted to approve the final state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The state plan, drafted by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) with significant impact from the State Board of Education, gives the District more flexibility in advancing educational excellence and provides assistance to schools so that each student has the opportunity for success.

“We want to thank OSSE for their collaborative work with the State Board on ESSA,” said Karen Williams, SBOE President and Ward 7 representative. “This approval puts us on a path to having a common system across all DC traditional public schools and charter schools that will be incredibly beneficial and powerful for all stakeholders involved.”

In early 2016, the State Board and OSSE embarked on a yearlong joint effort to develop a new accountability system under ESSA that aimed to meet the needs of all District public school students. This approved state plan significantly reduces the weight of assessments from current levels while still ensuring academic rigor and achievement.

The State Board’s work was instrumental in achieving this reduction in assessment focus. As a direct result of the State Board’s advocacy, this plan more heavily weights student growth over proficiency. This plan also provides a foundation to ensure schools are safe and welcoming and that schools provide students with a well-rounded education by committing to pilot a common school climate survey and additional measures for inclusion.

“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,” said Jack Jacobson, SBOE Vice President and Ward 2 Member. “Our State Board recommendations to OSSE had an incredibly positive impact on the final plan in emphasizing more growth, less testing, more transparency, and regular updates on progress.”

This comprehensive plan is a strong, thoughtful effort due to the Board’s rigorous engagement with families, teachers, students, school leaders, business leaders, and the Superintendent’s office. The State Board heard feedback on the draft plan from forty District residents at its March 15 public meeting. This public testimony occurred on the heels of last month’s nearly 300 parents, students, teachers, and community members who attended our ESSA community meetings held in all eight wards. Feedback has been key in helping Board members ensure that this plan is right for our schools.

For the very first time, parents and families will be able to make apples-to-apples comparisons between traditional public schools and public charter schools in one common accountability system. The final approved plan garnered support from both DC Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson and DC Public Charter School Board Executive Director Scott Pearson.

ESSA implementation begins in the 2017-18 school year. The SBOE will continue to work with OSSE to implement the plan and develop additional metrics related to a well-rounded education, high school growth, and school climate. The State Board remains committed to including these metrics as part of the state plan as soon as possible.

“The most critical next step in this process will be to design a state report card that reflects the information that parents want, need, and should know in order to make informed decisions about choosing a school for their child,” said Laura Wilson Phelan, Ward 1 representative. “These report cards are a valuable way to communicate not only the state’s accountability system, but also other information that rounds out the picture of student and school success.”

For more information about ESSA, please visit and 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