Testimony of Scott Pearson, Executive Director,
D.C. Public Charter School Board
Before the Council of the District of Columbia
Committee of the Whole
Public Hearing on The Early Warning and Intervention System Act of 2012
and the College Preparation Plan Act of 2012
February 16, 2012
View a video recording of the public hearing here.
Good morning Chairman Brown and members of the Council. I am Scott Pearson, executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board. I am pleased to come before you today to speak about two pieces of legislation – the Early Warning and Intervention System Act and the College Preparation Plan Act.
The DC Public Charter School Board supports your efforts to improve the performance of students through the middle grades and to support high school and college readiness. The intent of the Early Warning and Intervention System Act is quite similar to the purpose of the PCSB’s Performance Management Framework.
The PMF evaluates a school’s performance and measures how well students are progressing over time; how they are achieving in reading and mathematics and how prepared students are for future success in college. The PMF measures students in grades three through eight and again in the 10th grade. While the PMF measures how proficient students are in reading and mathematics on the DC CAS, it also looks at student progress over time – what we call the student growth percentile. This measures student progress by comparing one student’s progress from year to year to the progress of other students with similar DC CAS score histories. The PMF also looks at gateway measures designed to capture key subject area mastery – literacy at the elementary level and mathematics at the middle school level. Student data is already collected through the PMF much like what is being required of this bill.
We fully support the Early Warning Intervention System Act as long as it is voluntary. Charter schools are already paying special attention to the progress their students are making. They have an incentive to provide support for each student – both low achievers and high achievers – to maximize his or her growth. And the PCSB holds schools accountable for student achievement.
College Preparation Plan Act
The PCSB understands the Council’s reason for introducing the College Preparation Plan Act. Ensuring that all graduating students get a fair chance to attend a post-secondary institution is quite laudable. But requiring that every charter school student take the SAT or the ACT may be overreaching. There are non-traditional schools that do not require SAT or ACT. Some schools with a career or technical focus argue that they should be judged not by SAT scores or college acceptance rates, but by whether their graduates earn widely recognized industry certification, or whether they gain employment after graduation.
Based on the School Reform Act, charter schools have exclusive control over their instructional methods and only statewide tests can be tied to the core curriculum. The SATs are not part of the core curriculum.
The PMF incorporates the results of the SAT and PSAT as well as college acceptance rates as part of the gateway indicator in the high school framework. So for charter high schools this is already a key measurement that accounts for 30 points out of 100 on the PMF. So charter schools have a strong incentive to encourage their students to take the SAT and PSAT. And the PMF was created by the PCSB under our authority in the School Reform Act to monitor academic progress at the school.
In sum, the PCSB already provides strong incentives for the very measures this bill requires. We fully support the intent of the bill, but do not think a new requirement on charters is needed given the PMF criteria and the principle of school autonomy as reflected in the School Reform Act.
We urge you to consider making these bills voluntary.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to testify.