D.C. Council Approves Huge Education Overhaul

Lisa Gartner, Washington Examiner, March 20, 2012

D.C. students would be required to apply to college or trade school and take the SAT or ACT under the most sweeping education legislation passed by the D.C. Council since a 2007 law set the stage for former Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s aggressive reforms.

Under the Raising the Expectations for Education Outcomes Omnibus Act of 2012, the District is set to become the first “state” in the nation to require students to apply to a postsecondary institution, according to council staff.

Top teachers would be given $10,000 annual bonuses to relocate to poor, struggling schools; several campuses would be turned into community hubs; and the District would amp up efforts to identify and provide interventions for at-risk students as early as elementary school.

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The council voted 10-1, with At-large Councilman Phil Mendelson dissenting and Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells abstaining. Mayor Vincent Gray is expected to sign it into law.

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The measure combines several bills introduced this session: One ensures that children enter kindergarten prepared and can read independently and compute before being promoted to the fourth grade; another requires school officials to track data as early as elementary school on students who are at risk of dropping out and provide interventions as they transition to middle and high school.

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Critics of the bill have said the college exam and application requirement fails to address testing fees and college affordability.

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