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DC Public Schools Releases Changes to 2018-2019 Attendance and Graduation Requirements

Friday, June 22, 2018

DC Public Schools Releases Changes to 2018-2019 Attendance and Graduation Requirements

Public urged to share feedback on proposed regulations and policy revisions impacting graduation requirements, student promotion, secondary grading, and attendance; will open for a one-month comment period

(Washington, DC) Today, DC Public Schools (DCPS) released draft regulations and policies regarding attendance, student promotion, secondary grading, and graduation for public comment. Throughout this past winter and spring, DCPS engaged students, families, and school staff through more than 20 public engagement events and online surveys. The proposed changes, which will go into effect in School Year 2018-2019, were created to ensure all students have equitable access to an excellent education.

“When we first learned that our policies were not being followed, we put a process in place to get to the bottom of what happened and fix what wasn’t working. From the beginning, I said we would always put students first, stay focused on equity and excellence, and have the courage to improve; and over the past several months, that is what we have done,” said Mayor Bowser. “The proposed changes reflect the feedback of students, staff, and families, and will allow us to better support our school communities. But we are not done. We now invite the public to work with us to ensure we continue to set high expectations for our students and provide them with the opportunities and supports they need to realize their full potential.”

The proposed revisions reflect a commitment to empowering students and families on their paths to graduation. Examples include:

  • increased flexibility with school schedules that will allow DCPS to build school days that meet the needs of specific school communities;
  • a system of early-warning notifications that will give students an opportunity to get back on track, and the removal of automatic grade reductions and failures (for 10 absences) that will create new opportunities for students to make-up work and demonstrate mastery;
  • the grade appeals process will be streamlined to ensure timely responses for families, reduce administrative burden, and ensure good stewardship of funds; and
  • punitive consequences for highly mobile students will be replaced with opportunities to make up work and show mastery when transferring into a new school.

“Creating clear standards all students must meet to graduate and holding all stakeholders accountable is key to ensuring our students graduate prepared for college, career, and life,” said DCPS Interim Chancellor Dr. Amanda Alexander. “Everyone has a part to play in supporting our students toward graduation, and we are committed to ensuring that we have ample input as we improve our policies and regulations to do what is best for DCPS students.”

Following revelations that DCPS’ grading and attendance policies were being applied inconsistently, the Mayor commissioned an independent audit of district-wide policies on attendance and graduation outcomes. Based on the findings of the report, DCPS moved quickly to:

  • improve its training and systems;
  • create the Office of Integrity to answer questions and address concerns from students, families, staff, and community members;
  • schedule individual meetings with students to ensure they understood the steps they needed to take to graduate;
  • host resource fairs at every comprehensive high school to connect students with supports from community partners and District agencies;
  • provide robust training for school staff;
  • plan enhanced summer school programming; and
  • update the Aspen student information system to more precisely track compliance with current policies and more.

DCPS collected feedback on current policies this spring and determined that changes were necessary to both regulations and policies to better meet the needs of school communities. DCPS will seek feedback from the community on a rolling basis through the public comment period from June 22 to July 22, 2018.

Residents can read the updated policies and regulations and provide feedback at http://bit.ly/dcpsfeedback. Community members will also be able to provide feedback and ask questions at two community forums in July.