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DC Public Schools Kicks Off School Year 2017-2018 With Increased Opportunities for Excellence and Equity

Monday, August 21, 2017

DC Public Schools Kicks Off School Year 2017-2018 With Increased Opportunities for Excellence and Equity

Today, 102 schools opened their doors for the first day of school, following 13 extended-year schools that opened earlier this month. Building on eight continuous years of increased investments to schools, DC Public Schools will focus on excellence and equity for all in School Year 2017-2018 by better preparing students for success in college and career, expanding opportunities for middle school students, providing additional supports to Opportunity Academies, and investing more in students of color.

“I’m thrilled that our students are already off to a strong start this school year. DCPS’ 2017 PARCC scores show that students made tremendous progress,” said DC Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson. “As we turn to this upcoming school year, we’re even more focused on ensuring each and every one of our students has the necessary supports they need to succeed. From embracing social emotional learning to developing our talented educators to engaging families, we know we have a great school year ahead of us to continue this trend of improvement.”

DC Public Schools made record gains on the PARCC assessment in the last year, increasing by 6.4 percentage points in English language arts and 3.5 percentage points in math in 2017. Thirty-two percent of DC Public Schools (DCPS) students met or exceeded expectations on the grades 3-8 and high school English language arts (ELA) assessments, while 27 percent met or exceeded expectations on the grades 3-8 and high school math assessments.

Many DC Public Schools that are on the rise continue to grow and add grades:

  • Ron Brown College Preparatory High School (Ward 7) is adding a 10th grade;
  • MacFarland Middle School (Ward 4) is adding a 7th grade;
  • Leckie Elementary School (Ward 8) is adding an 8th grade; and
  • Van Ness Elementary (Ward 6) is adding a 2nd grade.

Additionally, DCPS will celebrate the opening of several new school buildings and facilities. By 2023, 90 percent of DC Public Schools will be renovated and modernized as part of an effort to ensure that all students learn in a world-class environment.

  • Duke Ellington School of the Arts (Ward 2) is a state-of-the-art performance arts center that will feature a theatre, large studios and rehearsal space, a new media center, and outdoor classroom.
  • Garrison Elementary School (Ward 2) will have a new entrance, updated academic spaces, and a new playground and field.
  • Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School (Ward 6) has a new playground and outdoor spaces.
  • Marie Reed Elementary School (Ward 1) will continue to offer dual-language programming in a learning environment that includes larger classrooms, new ceilings and flooring, and updated community spaces.
  • Ron Brown College Preparatory High School (Ward 7) saw a modernization of the building’s second and third floors, including new administrative spaces, classrooms, auditorium, and gymnasium.
  • Watkins Elementary School (Ward 6) has a new media center, gymnasium, theatre, common spaces, and an outdoor classroom.

New programming across all grade levels continues to draw families back to DCPS. In School Year 2017-2018, new investments include:

Preparing Students For College and Career

DCPS is expanding college and career support, ensuring more 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students receive a tailored postsecondary plan for college or career. Piloted at Ballou High School, H.D. Woodson High School, and Anacostia High School in School Year 2016-2017, College and Career Coordinators ensure that all students have plans for high school and beyond, more exposure to college via tours and expos, and assistance with SAT prep and FAFSA completion. College and Career Coordinators will support students at Ballou High School, Coolidge High School, Anacostia High School, Cardozo Education Campus, Dunbar High School, H.D. Woodson High School, Columbia Heights Education Campus (CHEC), Eastern High School, and Roosevelt High School.

Investing in the Middle School Experience

DC Public Schools is increasing extracurricular offerings in middle schools, a change that will ensure every middle school student in DCPS has the option to participate in at least one extracurricular program. New offerings will include: coding clubs, lacrosse, wrestling, rugby, archery, and hockey, as well as wheelchair track and field and unified basketball for students with disabilities. Middle schools will also add algebra courses and engineering and computer science electives, allowing students to access robust engineering instruction and have exposure to STEM courses before reaching high school.

Investing in Over-Age, Under-Credited Students

DCPS is continuing to invest in Opportunity Academies (Luke C. Moore High School, Washington Metropolitan High School, Ballou STAY High School, and Roosevelt STAY High School) to give more students, especially over-age, under-credited students, a path to graduation. This includes: providing Summit Personalized Learning, an instructional program that integrates high-quality, individualized digital learning in all core subjects; offering specialized programming to prepare students for college and the workplace; and providing students with increased out-of-class opportunities, including paid internships and expanded athletics programs.

Reign: Empowering Young Women as Leaders

DC Public Schools is supporting young women of color in a multi-pronged initiative that aims to build community, confidence, and leadership skills. The three pillars of Reign: Empowering Young Women as Leaders are: creating spaces for young women of color to build community, confidence, and leadership skills inside and outside of school; ensuring that schools are empowering places for young women of color by providing support to teachers and staff with training on gender and racial equity and expanding the health and gender curriculum at DC Public Schools; and launching Reign Innovation Grants to improve academic and social outcomes for young women of color by focusing on academic development, family engagement, and social-emotional supports.

“I’m proud to lead in DC Public Schools, a district that values investing in academic and emotional support for students who need it most,” said Michael Alexander, principal at Washington Metropolitan High School. “This school year, through our individualized programming and increased college and career supports, I’m confident that we’ll provide all of our students with multiple pathways to post-secondary success.”

For more information, follow @DCPublicSchools on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and use #DCPSRising to see the learning happening at our schools.