In a new school performance rating system unveiled by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Friday at Harriet Tubman Elementary School, around 40 percent of the D.C. public schools, including charter schools, received a three-star rating.
The five star-system assesses schools based on various factors, and information that is needed under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
“In fact, we have schools who are earning four stars in every ward of the District,” said Bowser.
The data on the D.C. School Report Card website indicates that nine percent of D.C. schools received a one-star rating, while eight percent got a five-star rating.
D.C. Council member Charles Allen, who also represents Ward 6, said evaluating school performance was a good step, but added that implementing the star ratings system was treating schools like restaurants.
“We’re just creating a Yelp system for our schools, and I don’t think that does justice to the great work that’s happening in and around each one of our schools,” said Allen, noting that the stars make the work of schools appear too simple.
Hanseul Kang, D.C. State Superintendent of Education, said $11 million will be provided to the schools that have scored lowest in the ranking system to help them improve their ratings.
“What they will be asked to do is to work with their school communities –with their parents, families and educators — to develop a school plan that fits their context and talks about how they plan to use these funds to dramatically improve,” said Kang.
According to the school system’s interim Chancellor Amanda Alexander,“redesign and restart” will be included as part of improvement programs for the lowest-performing schools. “It’s redesigning with new program focus. It could be in the area of mathematics or literacy. It’s really what the actual community wants to engage in,” said Alexander.
The executive director at the D.C. Public Charter School Board, Scott Pearson, said that three out of the five schools that got one star rating will be carefully investigated by the charter board this year.
“I don’t want to leave the impression that if a school is tier one on the star framework, it’s going to close. We have our own accountability system, and every school has an opportunity to improve,” said Pearson, in response to the question as to whether some schools will also face closures.
“It’s clear that the one-star schools need to get better, and we’re confident that they’re working on that.”