Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mayor Gray's April 18 regular presser includes DCPS announcements

Mayor Vincent Gray will talk education reform at his regular biweekly presser today at 9:30 am in the Mayor’s Press Briefing Room (1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Room G-9) (watch online here, via OCT link).   DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson will highlight the Gray Administration’s efforts to build on the successes of education reform in the District by highlighting the new DCPS five-year strategic plan "A Capital Commitment."   According to the release, "DCPS’ aggressive new strategy to rebuild the District’s traditional public schools into a high-quality, vibrant system that earns the confidence of the entire community."

Henderson will also talk about "Proving What’s Possible" (PWP) program.   DCPS believes this new $10 million grant program will "dramatically improve student outcomes."   A recent DCPS press release has this to say about PWP:

All DCPS schools are eligible to apply for either of the two types of PWP grants. Major Grants ($250,000–$400,000) are designed for schools with the largest population of students in need of academic improvement or a group of students who need to make the largest academic gains. Targeted Grants ($50,000–$100,000) are designed for schools that want to focus on supporting a targeted intervention for a subgroup within a school.

Of course, this new initiative is not necessarily all good news.   Followers of education and OST expect CMs to ask questions about this significant change at today's Committee of the Whole FY 2013 budget hearing on DCPS and the Deputy Mayor for Education at 10:00 am (deets on the DC Council hearing page).   Some of the outstanding questions and concerns are:

  • Limited or little public input into the change
  • Concern about school capacity to prepare well-written and well-grounded proposals ("Schools are encouraged to propose research-based approaches that have a track record of success in urban schools.")
  • Integration of positive youth development principles in programming; there is no reference to PYD in the DCPS release.   Up until recently, DCPS afterschool program staff had been learning about PYD from the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation through its Advancing Youth Development Curriculum and meetings and coaching around this important issue.   There appear to be no such requirements for AYD training for staff in "Proving What's Possible."
  • Lack of evaluation.   DCPS had opted in to the Trust's evaluation system Program Assessment and Assistance System (PAAS) and the move to PWP now puts the DCPS commitment to evaluation into question.

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