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DCPS Is on the Rise With Fourth Year of Growth in Student Enrollment

Monday, August 24, 2015

DCPS Is on the Rise With Fourth Year of Growth in Student Enrollment

Today, 113 District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) opened their doors with the highest enrollment on the first day of school in the past four years. DCPS also opened four new schools, created 250 new teaching positions, hired 14 new athletic coordinators, launched a new career academy, and more.

In the 2015-16 School Year, DCPS will continue to focus on the goals set forth in A Capital Commitment to ensure that every student, in every part of the district, receives a world-class education that prepares them to succeed after school, in college, and in life. To meet these goals, DCPS schools will focus on increasing the level of rigor in classrooms through Cornerstone assignments in every grade and subject area and additional Advanced Placement (AP) courses, as well as expanded opportunities for our high school students through new electives, career programming, and athletics.

DCPS on the Rise

DCPS is on the rise, including student enrollment and student satisfaction.

In 2015-16, we will see another increase in enrollment and the addition of four new schools. For a fourth year in a row, DCPS enrollment has increased. DCPS is on track to meet its new goal of enrolling more than 50,000 students by 2017.

  • Van Ness Elementary School is opening to meet the Ward 6 community’s need for more early childhood spots in the Navy Yard neighborhood. The school will open this year with Pre-K 3, Pre-K 4, and Kindergarten, and they will add one grade every year until fifth grade. Cynthia Robinson-Rivers, a former assistant principal, will serve as Van Ness’s first school leader.
  • Dorothy I. Height Elementary School is joining the DCPS family after being part of a charter network. This Ward 4 school retained its principal, Masi Preston, much of its staff, and a vast majority of its students.
  • River Terrace Elementary School is opening as the result of consolidating two schools, Sharpe Health and Mamie D. Lee. Through this consolidation to the Ward 7 campus, DCPS is setting a national standard for excellence in providing educational opportunities for students with disabilities. The new facility will be state of the art, featuring a rigorous and responsive program and environment for DCPS students with multiple disabilities, including intellectual disability, medical complexity, visual or hearing impairment, and autism. Aimee Pressley, former principal of Mamie D. Lee, will serve as River Terrace’s first school leader.
  • Brookland Middle School is opening to meet the Ward 5 community’s need for more middle grade options. The middle grades from Noyes, Burroughs, and Bunker Hill combined to create the new middle school, which will focus on arts integration and project-based learning. Norah Lycknell, former principal of Janney Elementary School, will serve as the school’s first school leader.

Student Satisfaction also increased again this year to 83 percent of students liking school, which is on track to meet the Capital Commitment goal of 90 percent of students by 2017. To measure this goal, DCPS surveys students in grades three through 12 each spring. Several schools saw a 20 percent increase in their student satisfaction this year, including Bannaker High School, Malcolm X Elementary School, CW Harris Elementary School, Turner Elementary School, and Brookland Educational Campus.

Focus on Joyful Rigor

This school year marks the launch of Cornerstones, an initiative that builds upon the DCPS college-and-career-ready curriculum to ensure that every DCPS student has shared learning experiences. Cornerstones are lesson experiences that will be taught within the DCPS core curriculum units of study. Every student in every grade level, from Kindergarten to 12th grade, across English language-arts, math, science, art, music, physical education, health, and world language subjects will experience Cornerstone lessons.

Samples of Cornerstones include:

  • Second graders will learn how to cross-pollinate plants.
  • Fifth graders will use their foreign language skills in a real-life setting by communicating with students in different countries.
  • Seventh graders will read Melba Patillo Beals’ memoir Warriors Don’t Cry about school integration and interview “warriors” from their own communities.
  • Chemistry students will build functional electric cells that can power smartphones.

“Challenging curriculum has always been part of DCPS’ strategy, but going forward, students will receive the same high-quality learning experience, no matter where they live or go to school,” said DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “Every first-grader, from Simon Elementary in Ward 8 to Janney Elementary in Ward 3, will bioengineer a frog habitat and 10th-graders at every high school will build electric batteries. And starting this year, every  DCPS second-grader will learn to ride a bicycle, regardless of whether they have one at home. All high schools will provide at least six Advanced Placement courses, and some will offer more than 20.”

AP course offerings will also expand across the district. For the 2015-16 School Year, all schools will have at least six AP courses, but most schools will offer many more. For example, Columbia Heights Education Campus (CHEC) will offer 18 courses, Roosevelt High School will offer 13 courses, and Wilson High School will offer 29 courses. New AP offerings will include such courses as Chinese, computer science, music theory, and statistics. View the entire list of AP course offerings at DCPS.

Since 2010, the number of DCPS students who have taken AP exams has grown dramatically. Fifty-two percent more students took AP exams this year compared to five years ago. Last year, we had the highest AP participation rate in the country: More than 2,700 students took AP exams. This year even more students will have the opportunity to take an AP class. Four schools increased their AP course offerings by one-third or more, including Anacostia High School, Banneker High School, Cardozo High School, and Roosevelt High School.

Investment in High Schools

DCPS’ goal is for all of our students to be college and career ready, and strong high schools are a crucial part of that. Toward that goal, DCPS is continuing to invest in career academies, expand elective course offerings, and strengthen athletic programs.

In 2014-15, DCPS launched seven career academies across seven high schools. These academies were an overwhelming success. More than 350 students participated in coursework, mentorships, and site visits to learn about the engineering, IT, and hospitality industries. In addition, 117 students completed summer internships at companies including Accenture, International Trade Association, Howard University Hospital, Washington Hilton, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Architect of the Capitol. Enrollment in the academies will increase to more than 700 students this year, and a new academy focused on hospitality will open at Ballou High School

Across the country, students who participate in these career academies have higher high school graduation rates and higher college enrollment rates than their peers. Fifty-two percent of career academy students earn bachelor degrees in four years. Given these statistics, DCPS is proud to launch two more academies at Woodson High School in the 2016-17 School Year focused on engineering and IT, two of the highest-wage and highest-demand career fields in the district. These academies will prepare our students from Ward 7 for lucrative careers in the area.

DCPS high schools are also expanding  elective course offerings this year. Across the system, high schools will offer 250 elective courses in 2015-16, an increase of nearly 100 courses above last year. Electives will include courses such as African American Experience Through Literature, Health Problems in Urban Areas, modern dance, concert choir, journalism, yearbook and marching band. View an entire list of elective course offerings at DCPS.

In addition to expanded AP courses and elective offerings, high school students will see stronger athletic programs in all schools this year. Fourteen high schools received a new athletic coordinator, responsible for organizing teams, events, and recruiting students. An investment of more than $750,000 in new equipment will be shared across high schools, including helmets, scoreboards, hurdles, and balls. Last year, participation in athletics was up more than 9 percent from the 2013-14 School Year, and these investments will provide even more opportunities for students to participate in sports this year.

For more information on the first day of the 2015-16 School Year, read Chancellor Henderson’s op-ed in The Washington Post.

Follow the first day of the 2015-16 School Year at #DCPSRising.