Democrats for Education Reform DC
Good evening. My name is Kyle Myers. I am a Ward 5 resident, and a fifth generation Washingtonian. I am writing this testimony on behalf of Democrats for Education Reform DC. I am pleased to offer testimony on the importance of ensuring the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) statewide annual assessment gets administered to students next spring, and increasing equity within our DC School Report Card Star Rating System. I believe that both are essential to helping ensure our students are successful.
OSSE must administer the PARCC Assessment in Spring 2022
The PARCC statewide annual assessment has not been administered to our students in two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is absolutely necessary that it returns in the Spring 2022. The PARCC exam provides a citywide view of where all of our students are academically to drive change, direct resources to schools that need them most, and provide critical information on the DC School Report card. However, the PARCC exam should not be tied to accountability in spring 2022.
There are many ways to improve the PARCC exam, including the following: shorten the length of the exam; shorten the time it takes to get results back; and ensure students and families have the PARCC exam scores, understand why the exam is important, and know how to get appropriate accommodations if necessary. The exam should be shortened because over time a student may lose focus on the test because of how long they are just sitting there in between sections, and how many questions they have to answer. In my previous experience talking to students who have taken the test, some have admitted to giving up two thirds of the way through the test because it was just too long. Further, the importance of the exam should be communicated to students and families. In order for us to measure where a student really is, they have to put forth their best effort. Some students know that the test does not count against them grading wise, and I have witnessed them not even trying because of that fact. I understand explaining the means of the test, but the importance of its outcome should be stressed way more. Results need to come back faster than they have in the past. The faster we know where the students are, the more help can be provided to students and schools. It is crucial that the results are shared with parents so that they are also aware of their child’s academic level. Additionally, schools should be sharing with families opportunities to get testing accommodations when needed based on issues they may have taking the exam.
Ensure the DC School Report Card is Equitable
I would also like to share my support for the DC School Report Card and Star Framework and the need to increase equity within it. An equitable public education system provides equitable access, inclusion, and resources. It ensures opportunities and prevents performance gaps between student groups. All of these things require objective student data about student outcomes. In furtherance of this, we should assign higher star ratings to schools that are effectively educating certain student subgroups (e.g., students with disabilities, English learners, at-risk students). Additionally, specialized support for students with disabilities should be included on the DC School Report Card. These supports can include the following: information on sensory rooms for students with disabilities, specialized service offerings (i.e., for deaf and hard of hearing), the percentage of successful completion of Individual Education Plans, and the percentage of transition plans that are provided to students with disabilities who are 14 years old. These are the sort of improvements that we should be incentivizing with the DC School Report Card and Star Framework.
In closing, I hope the DC State Board of Education will help ensure the PARCC exam is administered in spring 2022 and recommend changes to the DC School Report Card and Star Framework that include objective measures of equity. Thank you for allowing me to testify on these important topics.