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Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Chancellor Kaya Henderson Announce Strategic Plan to Accelerate Progress in D.C. Public Schools

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mayor Vincent C. Gray and District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Kaya Henderson today announced an aggressive strategy to rebuild the District’s traditional public schools into a high-quality, vibrant system that earns the confidence of the entire community.

DCPS will dedicate significant financial resources to accomplish five ambitious goals over the next five years in an effort to dramatically increase student achievement, graduation rates, enrollment, and student satisfaction.

“As I said in the State of the District Address in February, every child in every neighborhood in our city deserves the opportunity to gain a first-rate public education,” Mayor Gray said. “This plan will move us into the District’s next phase of school reform, building on our recent successes and capitalizing on the dramatic population and economic growth our city has seen in recent years.”

The initiatives are part of DCPS’ Five-Year Strategic Plan. Called “A Capital Commitment,” the plan helps guide spending and programmatic decisions through 2017.

“These commitments support our goals for the next five years and the promises we have made to the District of Columbia, to our families and our students, and to all our stakeholders to provide the students of this city with a world-class education,” said Chancellor Henderson. “Behind each of these goals are real, specific financial commitments that will help us build on the momentum we have seen over the past five years and move forward aggressively toward dramatic improvements.”

Over the next five years, DCPS has committed to the following five goals:

  • Increase District-wide math and reading proficiency to 70 percent while doubling the number of students who score at advanced levels of proficiency;
  • Improve the proficiency rates for our 40 lowest-performing schools by 40 percentage points;
  • Increase our high school graduation rate from 52 percent to 75 percent;
  • Ensure that 90 percent of DCPS students like the school they attend; and
  • Increase overall DCPS enrollment.


DCPS’ academic plan, which is aligned with the Common Core State Standards, will continue to guide the school system’s efforts to accelerate DCPS students’ math and reading proficiency. To reach the 70-percent-proficiency goal and double the number of students scoring at advanced levels, DCPS will:

  • Continue to invest in high-quality instruction by rewarding highly effective teachers and principals;
  • Provide professional development driven by student performance data and teacher needs;
  • Increase investment to improve in-seat attendance, decrease tardiness and truancy, reduce bullying and improve student wellness; and
  • Invest in new gifted-and-talented programs and continued expansion of International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs.


DCPS is committed to investing in our 40 lowest-performing schools, which serve large populations of students who need extra support. These include low-income students, English language learners, and students with special needs. To help accelerate achievement, DCPS has committed to:

  • Offer the Proving What’s Possible grant to low-performing schools that are improving instruction, extending learning time, and making targeted technology investments. DCPS has invested $10 million for these grants; and
  • Invest in teachers, principals and staff, who interact with students every day. We will continue to recruit and retain highly effective educators with a focus on placing these educators in our 40 lowest-performing schools.


To ensure that more students graduate on time, DCPS will leverage technology and provide targeted support to secondary schools. For example, through an electronic portfolio, students in grades 6–12 will discover their interests, set goals and create a thoughtful plan for high school and beyond. DCPS will:

  • Provide targeted resources to schools with low promotion rates for first-time ninth-graders, including an intensive summer bridge program;
  • Invest in an Early Warning Intervention system so we can identify students who need support to graduate on time; and
  • Explore new ways to make the high school experience vibrant and relevant.


Academic achievement begins with engagement. DCPS is committed to ensuring that our students enjoy school and treasure their educational experiences. Our schools will:

  • Employ dedicated staff who make meaningful connections with students;
  • Provide a rich and varied educational experience that includes art, music and physical education;
  • Offer safe and modern facilities, quality meals and current technology; and
  • Welcome families and encourage them to participate in their children’s education.


As enrollment increases, DCPS will be able to expand the range of courses and experiences offered at each school to make DCPS the system of choice for more residents. To expand enrollment in the coming years, DCPS will:

  • Prepare to serve all students, including special education students who are returning to DCPS from non-public placements;
  • Continue to use targeted recruitment to raise the profile of high-performing schools. As part of this effort, DPCS will continue to make school performance data easily accessible for families; and
  • Continually improve the quality of education at every school to attract new families to DCPS.


Last week, Chancellor Henderson announced a new “Proving What’s Possible” grant program to support efforts to dramatically improve student outcomes. The $10 million program is designed to fund innovative efforts at local schools that result in boosts to student achievement.

All DCPS schools are eligible to apply for either of the two types of PWP grants. Major Grants ($250,000–$400,000) are designed for schools with the largest population of students in need of academic improvement or a group of students who need to make the largest academic gains. Targeted Grants ($50,000–$100,000) are designed for schools that want to focus on supporting a targeted intervention for a subgroup within a school.

Contact: Doxie McCoy (EOM) | 202-727-9691 | Contact Email