Senior minister, All Souls Church, Unitarian; chairman, educational programs committee, D.C. Board of Education; member of textbook steering committee, Council of Chief State School Officers; former dean and associate professor of education, Federal City College; former executive director, Opportunity Industrialization Center; former registrar and counselor, Howard University; advisory committee member, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education; advisory council member, For Love of Children.
1: Test score gains have been from elementary to junior high with some signs at the secondary level, as shown by small increases in BTBS Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills and major SAT increases. It is clear that the longer a student has been exposed to CBC Competency Based Curriculum , the more the results pay off in student test score gains. However, we do not plan to wait until the "good students move up to the senior high level, bringing their higher test scores." I support new directions that will immediately improve senior high schools, such as establishing a secondary school improvement unit, extending the student progress plan to senior high schools, forming public/private partnerships and designating department heads for in-school supervision.
2: The fact that many of our students come from low-income families merely means our professional staffs have a greater challenge. By and large, we are meeting that challenge. We are beginning to see the hard results in test scores, improved attendance, a reduction in dropouts and an increase in college-bound students. While much emphasis has been placed on improving teaching and administrative skills, there also has been a lot done with technology -- all of our students are exposed to computers. We also have done a lot with realistic career-role models in our pre-engineering, health careers, business and finance programs and other public/private partnerships. These efforts help provide basic skills for sound education and also better prepare students for competition in a technological society.
3: The first and most important factor is to maintain a "team" approach to the public education mission of this city. That means that the Board of Education must assume its role as policy maker and leave the day-to-day administration of the schools to the superintendent. That is by far the most important continuing effort on the part of both the board and the administration in terms of improving the D.C. public school system. Second, we must accept the gains of our students in terms of test scores as representing improvement in the D.C. public school system. We must also understand that "test scores" are not the be-all and end-all relative to developing "educated" persons. We must pursue and be involved in policy directions that relate to larger avenues of defining what is, in essence, the "educated" person and how an urban school system can move towards those kinds of exciting challenges. Third, this school system must develop an environment that is not only academically productive but also physically esthetic. It is necessary that many of the buildings be improved so that schools truly are proud buildings -- brick and mortar that represent "institutions" where things happen that are good for the community.