ERN-DC Statement on OSSE Graduation and Attendance Report

Catharine Bellinger, ERN-DC State Director: Statement on the graduation and attendance report released by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education:

“The recent Alvarez & Marsal report on DCPS graduation and attendance outcomes points to systemic problems in the majority of our traditional DCPS high schools — including chronic absenteeism, a culture of low expectations, pressure to pass students from one grade to the next, misrepresentation of data, and a lack of trust between teachers and administrators. Our collective failure as a city to address these problems earlier has been devastating to generations of students, not just in the last few years but for decades.

Mayoral control, performance-based evaluation of educators, and a Common Core-aligned curriculum have all been necessary to jumpstart public school improvement in the District in the last decade — but these changes are alone insufficient to address chronic failure and low expectations in our public schools particularly in later grades. We’ve seen significant, objective progress in DCPS elementary schools and many high-performing charters — it’s time to learn from what’s working, change what isn’t, and hold ourselves to a much higher standard. Going forward, the DCPS central office must create a culture of both transparency and accountability, trust and respect between principals and teachers, and school-level autonomy so educators can meet the unique needs of their students.”