Kaya Henderson Reflects on Tough Decisions as Former DCPS Chancellor

 Photo Credit: The Washington Post
Photo Credit: The Washington Post

In an interview with newly launched education blog, The Line, former DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson opens up about her experience overseeing the once struggling school system and how she was able to make improvements so significant that she received praise from former President Obama and formal recognition from the Department of Education.  

When asked about how she was able to work collaboratively with city leaders during years of contentious political differences Henderson responded

“In the first three years that I was at DCPS when I was deputy chancellor, I saw that every single constituent — from the mayor, to the city council, to parents, to neighborhood associations, to teachers — everyone had their own metrics to evaluate how well the school district was doing, and they were completely different sets of metrics depending on who you asked. It was very difficult to be successful when there were these wide variations for what success looked like.

In 2012 I decided that we were going to ask our parents and our families, “10 years from now, what do you want to see at DCPS? What should it look like?” We called this the Hopes and Dreams Campaign and we had close to 10,000 people who told us what was important to them. We took that information and set five big goals to determine how we were going to measure our success over the next five years. We set a goal around test scores increasing, a goal for our lowest performing schools to move faster, a goal around graduation rates, a goal around student satisfaction, and a goal around enrollment. These goals became a purpose that everyone in the city understood.

We were all on the same page about where we were trying to go, and we were able to bring an alignment amongst our stakeholders. People all felt like they were a part of these five goals and I felt like we had a clear destination and clear metrics.” 

Click here to see the full interview.