Whether you deck the halls for Las Posadas, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or simply look forward to the seasonal reset of solstice, we wish you joy and light this holiday season.

At Education Matters, this season of renewal lets us reflect on our perennial goal: to increase access to high-quality education for all WCC students.

As we set our sights on student achievement in 2018 and beyond, we’re making a list for the coming year, and jotting down the holiday wishes that will bring tidings of growth and success for the kids in our district. With warm wishes and a hopeful spirit, we present the…

 

EDUCATION MATTERS HOLIDAY WISH LIST

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100% of WCCUSD students complete the interim winter assessment

Back in October, the school board unanimously passed a resolution that affirmed its commitment to the strategic use of data in evaluating student progress. Created by parent advocates from GO WCC, the resolution required that the Board and the District generate and share “timely and actionable” data that detail “progress toward goals and remaining areas for improvement” throughout the district.

Because we value transparent, informed decision-making, we believe that growth data matters.

The SBAC Scores presented in the data sheet we released earlier this semester were cause for significant concern about student performance, especially at some of the district’s lowest-performing schools. Of particular concern to us was the shocking discovery that, according to last spring’s assessment, a number of schools were generating 0% math achievement by African American students.

Topping this list is our wish that the district delivers a stocking-full of student growth data derived from the interim assessment of all students in math and language arts.

Once the district captures a mid-winter’s snapshot of student academic growth, educators can reflect on progress during the first half of the year, and adjust as needed to accelerate growth into the spring. Likewise, the data will let school leaders discover which classrooms may need additional support, and help district leaders determine policy and spending priorities in the coming year.

 

A significant, budget-neutral raise for WCC educators

Every day, our most talented and dedicated WCC teachers craft lessons that lead to light bulb moments and ignite student confidence. Unfortunately, the district’s current teacher compensation structure undervalues the creativity, dedication, and expertise that our most gifted teachers bring to their classrooms year over year. Given all of the challenges teachers face on a daily basis, making ends meet and affording a reasonable place to live should not be among them.

We hope that the holiday spirit inspires the district and its teachers to negotiate a significant, budget-neutral raise in teacher compensation in 2018.

To achieve this goal within existing fiscal constraints, district leaders will have to make sizable (even painful) cuts to WCCUSD’s current annual expenditures, and remain steadfast in defending those difficult tradeoffs. We urge the district, the Board of Education, and the United Teachers of Richmond to agree on a contract that balances increased teacher pay with higher accountability standards, more professional development days, and flexibility to accommodate site-based work rules that open doors to ongoing innovation. In the semester ahead, may both sides remain centered on student achievement as they seek mutually agreeable new year’s resolutions.

 

Retention of highly-qualified and talented teachers

Increasing salaries alone will not attract and retain the best and brightest educators in the region. Making strides in student achievement requires investing in the constant development of excellent teachers who will drive our district’s ongoing improvement.

In the year ahead, we hope that our most talented teachers renew their desire to stay in our district, strengthen our classrooms, lead our schools, and teach the next generation of ambitious learners.

Toward that goal, it is our hope that the district provides additional resources that help teachers refine their craft, and rejoice as they measure their students’ progress. Whether that support comes from within the district, or from valuable community partners like New Leaders, Partners in School Innovation, or Mills Teacher Scholars, we value ongoing teacher development and leadership training for district educators. By fully supporting inspired teachers to continue their professional growth, our students will receive the enduring gift of high-quality learning.

 

Growth in district-wide community engagement

Grasstops leaders, education advocates and parents: ‘Tis the season to transform our most underperforming schools. No one is better positioned to reshape the district’s definition of success than you — the grandparents, program staffers, moms and dads, and community leaders who count on accessible, high-quality classrooms to propel school-aged loved ones toward success.

In 2018, we wish to stand with a broader coalition of active community members who insist on excellent schools.

At Education Matters, we believe that without active community involvement in re-shaping our schools, there will be a critical voice missing at the table. In service of WCC students, we’re working to ensure that those who may not currently feel that their actions matter can discover genuine pathways to engage at the classroom, school, and district level. In 2018, we will redouble our effort to facilitate community engagement. We urge stakeholders to embrace all opportunities to join in the transformation of our most underperforming schools.

 

Reconciliation in the shared pursuit of access to excellent schools

Our final wish to close out 2017 is perhaps our most ambitious of all. It requires that we embrace the spirit of the season long after the last bit of tinsel is back in the attic, and imagine a new reality in how we work together in the service of kids and their families.

This year, we hope to disrupt the often contentious and polarizing debate that pits public charter schools and traditional district schools against one another. In our community, both will continue to play an important role in advancing student success.

To make true progress in 2018, we wish for district leaders, charter leaders, teachers, community advocates, and parents to work together to drive transformation and deliver a diverse mix of high-quality school options for WCC students.

We enthusiastically support the district’s effort to create expanded options for students enrolled in traditional public schools. We also believe in the important role that free, public charter schools play in rounding out options for WCC students. When schools — traditional or charter —  maintain high academic accountability standards, generate active community support, and demonstrate measurable results, WCC students benefit. With a range of options in place, historically underserved students gain increased access to schools that can propel them academically. Forging the will to collaborate and innovate together offers our greatest hope for delivering year-round success to the young people throughout our district.

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As we settle in for what may feel like an all-too-brief winter’s nap, we extend our warmest holiday wishes to those in our community who always strive for greater student success. We look forward to continuing this work with you in 2018!

 


 

Related Story: Our Own Hidden Figures

In six (6) of our District schools, 0% of African American students achieved grade level proficiency in Math last year… Failure to lift our Black students up to grade level proficiency in Math extends beyond those six schools. Only 1% of Black students at… Read More >>