Education Week - May 22, 2013 - (Page 11)

EDUCATION WEEK n MAY 22, 2013 n 11 A DISTRICT AND A SCHOOL, IN CONTEXT BRIAN PICK | Age: 32 CHIEF OF TEACHING AND LEARNING District of Columbia Public Schools I t was the contrast that hit Brian Pick hard: There he was, a Princeton University junior from a comfortable Chicago suburb, visiting a high school in beleaguered Newark, N.J. The students there were only four years younger than he was, but they’d had little of the good fortune that had opened Ivy League doors for him. He saw another version of that gap when his undergraduate work led him to teach 3rd graders in the state’s capital, Trenton, about acid rain, and to study in Capetown, South Africa. “I saw poverty like I’d never seen poverty before,” Mr. Pick recalls. “Those experiences planted the seed in my head of going into education, working with students, particularly in urban areas, who were not afforded the opportunities I was growing up.” That’s what led him to apply to Teach For America after he’d earned his bachelor’s degree. He taught 2nd grade in San Jose, Calif., for two years, while getting his teaching certificate at San Jose State University. He loved his school and the immigrant community it served, and “made a fool” of himself deploying his high school Spanish to talk with parents. Part of him longed to stay in the classroom. But he was also drawn to school leadership, so he enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley, to earn a master’s degree in public policy. He immersed himself in courses at the nexus of education, law, leadership, and public policy. While in graduate school, he kept a hand in real-world education, too. He worked on middle school reconfiguration for a local district in California, helped a small-schools nonprofit in Oakland write a plan for a new school, and supervised an after-school program for 4th and 5th graders in another Bay Area community. At a tfa reunion, he would meet fellow alumnus David Silver, who had started an Oakland elementary school called Think College Now. Mr. Pick would spend four years there as a classroom and after-school teacher. While studying at Berkeley, Mr. Pick worked summer education jobs in Washington. He studied teacher quality at the Education Trust, foreshadowing the issue’s rise on the national radar, and was in the first District of Columbia cohort of Education Pioneers, an alternative-route school leadership program. B y the time he completed that program, in 2007, Michelle A. Rhee had become the chancellor of the District of Columbia schools. He knew her deputy, Kaya Henderson, from his time working to open an elementary school for DC Prep Charter School, where Ms. Henderson had been on the board. He had been working at Think College Now, but left in 2008 to follow his partner to Washington. Fascinated by history and politics, Mr. Pick had always wanted to live in the nation’s capital. As he was looking for work, Ms. Henderson recruited him. He ended up joining Ms. Rhee’s team as a project analyst in fall 2008. Within a few months, he was working with Ms. Henderson to develop the school district’s signature initiative: its teaching and learning framework and teacher-evaluation system. On a tight timeline, it became an intensive seminar: “reading every report possible”; interviewing teachers, administrators, superintendents, and outside experts; and planning for the ripple effects the system would have on curriculum, instruction, and assessment. By June 2011, Ms. Henderson had become chancellor, and Mr. Pick was named deputy chief academic officer for curriculum and instruction. In that capacity, he supervised the development of the district’s model curriculum, and its system of interim assessments, professional development, and instructional coaching, to align with the new Common Core State Standards. His work earned him the Council of the Great City Schools’ 2012 award for curriculum leadership. He became the school district’s teaching and learning chief in February. The District of Columbia’s theory of action turns on creating a rich bank of instructional resources that teachers can adapt as they see fit to help students reach proficiency on interim and end-of-year tests. That choice was informed, in part, by feedback from school leaders, coaches, and teachers, who said they wanted supports like model units and aligned interim assessments, and daily lesson plans, but not scripted daily plans, Mr. Pick says. As a result, strict programmatic adherence is required in few places in the district, mostly in literacy interventions and —CATHERINE GEWERTZ elementary-level phonics programs.  The District of Columbia has taken on an aggressive K-12 implementation of the common standards, a particular challenge since its academic performance lags behind that of the United States as a whole. Stuart-Hobson Middle School faces fewer challenges to success than many of Washington’s schools, in part because it serves fewer disadvantaged children. HIGH-NEEDS ENROLLMENT (2012-13) 77% DCPS ENROLLMENT: 55% 45,557 District of Columbia Public Schools Stuart-Hobson Middle School (grades 6-8) STUART-HOBSON ENROLLMENT: 371 17% 13% Special education students Free and reduced-price lunch 10% 1% English-language learners DEMOGRAPHICS (2012-13) 87% District of Columbia Public Schools 69% Stuart-Hobson Middle School 16% 11% 9% 2% 2% African-American 2% Asian White Latino 1% 2% Multiracial 2% NAEP PERFORMANCE 14% 8th grade reading (2011) 49% UNITED STATES 3% Advanced 29% Proficient 35% 43% Basic 25% Below Basic DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Advanced Proficient Basic Below Basic DC CAS PERFORMANCE 8th grade reading 2012 52% 38% 26% 18% District of Columbia Public Schools 33% 18% 4% Below Basic 2011 32% 30% 18% Basic 48% 39% 18% 12% Proficient Advanced 2010 47% 41% 25% 17% 30% 26% 12% 2% 2% Below Basic Stuart-Hobson Middle School 10% Basic Proficient Advanced Below Basic Basic Proficient Advanced SOURCES: National Center for Education Statistics; District of Columbia Public Schools

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 22, 2013

Education Week - May 22, 2013
District Bets Big on Standards
FOCUS ON: EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: States Stepping Up Mandates for School Safety Drills
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Schools Facing the Expiration of Windows XP
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Debates Roil Over Control of Schools in Baton Rouge
Study: Teenagers’ Brains Are Wired for Peer Approval
Analysis Calls for Dual-Language Pre-K for Young ELLs
PROFILE: Brian Pick
PROFILE: Dowan Mcnair-Lee
PROFILE: Mikel Robinson
States Tighten Disclosure of Teacher Evaluations
Blogs of the Week
NRC Framework Seen as Valued Resource for Educators
A Spec. Ed. Twist on Common-Core Testing
K-12 Colors Campaigns in Virginia, New Jersey
Policy Brief
CYNTHIA G. BROWN: The ‘How’ of Equitable School Funding
JIM CHILDRESS: Designing Learning Spaces for A New Age of Discovery
JEANNE ZAINO: Teaching the Metric System: A Cautionary Tale for the Common Core
Topschooljobs Recruitment Marketplace
LISA HANSEL: The Common Core Needs a Common Curriculum

Education Week - May 22, 2013