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Friday, April 11, 2014

Charter Founder: Jennifer C. Niles, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School


"I'm not surprised being here ten years later, but I certainly didn't appreciate then the richness of what the school would become." 
Jennifer C. Niles, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School 

I turned in the application on time, right at deadline.  I am sure I walked it to the office myself.  It was an exciting moment -- it felt like a big accomplishment just to have completed the proposal.  

This was 12 years ago!  I don't really remember the interview process.
But I do remember the hearing.  Because I had been working at Capital City, a number of students and parents from there came to speak, which was really nice.  One of the 2nd graders who spoke made an analogy: "Ms. Niles is like a Japanese Tea Ceremony."  I was wondering where this was going...  She said, "Ms. Niles is very calm and serene with everything exactly in its place."  What a lovely image, though one I didn't think was quite so representative of me at that time, but I was pleased that's the impression I gave.  The other people who spoke were some of the 40 people who contributed to our application.  It was great to have so many people there in support.

I thought that our application would be approved, but I didn't know if it would be approved conditionally.  I thought it would be approved because it had drawn so much from effective practice and we were very thorough.  And I had read so many other charter applications in DC and around the country.

I'm not surprised being here ten years later, but I certainly didn't appreciate then the richness of what the school would become.  While you can imagine having a high school, you can't imagine what it really looks like to have incredible teachers think about rigorous curriculum, students shine in writing essays about "Persepolis," students impress scientists who come to visit, and students earn scholarships to prestigious summer programs.

Jennifer C. Niles is the founder and Head of School at E. L. Haynes Public Charter School. The school opened in 2004, and currently serves more than 950 students in grades PK to 12th grade.  

Posted by: PCSB at 3:40 p.m.
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Friday, April 04, 2014

Friendship PCS Students Help the First Lady Plant the White House Kitchen Garden


On April 2, the First Lady welcomed local students and FoodCorps leaders on the South Lawn for the sixth-annual planting of the White House Kitchen Garden. The garden was first planted in 2009 to commence a nationwide conversation on healthy eating and inspired the First Lady to launch Let’s Move!

At this year’s planting, the First Lady hosted the founders of FoodCorps, a program dedicated to teaching our nation’s children about healthy food while ensuring they have access to it during the school day. This fall, FoodCorps members will serve DC-area schools including Friendship Public Charter School — and students from these schools accompanied FoodCorps at the garden planting.

The students planted a variety of fruits and vegetables, including collard greens, rhubarb, onions, strawberries, raspberries, and a new addition, a paw paw tree.

The First Lady worked alongside the students, helping them lift a watering can when its weight grew too heavy and planting some of the larger flowers.

“Guys, this is awesome,” she told them. “Look at all the work you did. You know how long this would have taken me if I did it by myself?”

Before leaving, the first lady said she was looking forward to seeing the students again at harvest time – “when we pick it up, take it out and we eat it.”

Posted by: PCSB at 10:50 a.m.
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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Vice President Joe Biden Makes a Surprise Visit to Carlos Rosario International PCS

On March 31, Vice President Joe Biden stopped by Carlos Rosario International PCS to highlight the importance of signing up for healthcare. The School, in partnership with the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and other local community organizations, has enrolled almost 300 students and community members over the past two weeks. On Monday health navigators convened at the School for a final push before the April 1 deadline. 

During his visit, Vice President Biden told those waiting to enroll, “You are doing the right thing. It’s good for everybody.” 

“We are pleased to welcome Vice President Biden to the Carlos Rosario School to see the outstanding work being done here in helping minorities access health care through the Affordable Care Act,” said Sonia Gutierrez, President and Founder.   

The School has been involved in a series of efforts to inform DC residents particularly the District’s immigrant population about the value of healthcare for the community as a whole. Earlier this month students from Carlos Rosario International PCS' Nurse Aide Career Training Program and citizenship class attended a town hall meeting where President Obama discussed the role of Latinos around the country in the new healthcare legislation. And in October Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton hosted a town hall meeting at the school to share information with the more than 350 students and staff in attendance.   

“We are seeing a ripple effect take place. A student enrolls with DC Health Link, and then goes home and brings back her family members and neighbors to enroll, said Allison R. Kokkoros, Acting President. “We are so grateful to the DC Health Link team, the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and our partner organizations who are going all out to enroll every DC resident who needs health care.”  

The Carlos Rosario International PCS and the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will provide two more Health Link enrollment dates for community members: April 5 and April 12.  

About the Carlos Rosario School International PCS
For the past 43 years, the Carlos Rosario School has transformed the lives of more than sixty thousand immigrants by investing in and supporting their journey to achieve the American Dream. Our education model combines award-winning adult education with life skills programs and support services. ESL instruction is embedded in life and technology skills, health education, parenting, civics, and workforce training. The School celebrates a long established local, regional, and national reputation for excellence and our programs are recognized as high quality and impactful. Thanks to the School’s programs tens of thousands of adults have obtained high school diplomas; become U.S. citizens; gained the English skills necessary to advocate for their children; obtained college degrees and workforce certifications; and entered into careers and climbed career ladders.

Posted by: PCSB at 7:14 p.m.
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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

It’s College Acceptance Season: Congratulations to All the College-Bound Public Charter High School Seniors

Clockwise starting from the top: Xavier Richie from KIPP DC College Prep PCS; Cora Smallwood, Tynish Little, and Takima Johnson from Friendship PCS; Daniel Spruill from Friendship PCS; Malachi Byrd from Cesar Chavez PCS; and 
Minh-Hong Nguyen from Capital City PCS; China Green from Friendship PCS 

One by one high school seniors will receive the college acceptance letters they hoped for – some from an ivy league or out-of-state school or an institution closer to home. 

In DC, most of the 19 public charter high schools celebrate the achievement of having every member of their graduating class accepted to a 4-year college or university.

Below is a list of some of the college acceptances:  

Friendship PCS

  • Daniel Spruill, the State Board of Education student representative, received acceptances from: University of Chicago, University of Virginia, Harvey Mudd College, Princeton University, and Carnegie Mellon University. He will attend Princeton University in the fall. 
  • China Green received a full, four-year scholarship to attend George Washington University
  • Cora Smallwood and Tynish Little received a partial scholarship worth more than $80,000 will attend Hanover College in Indiana
  • Takima Johnson was awarded a four-year full ride to Hanover College in Indiana

Thurgood Marshall Academy PCS

  • Joey Adams, acceptance from Sewanee: University of the South, POSSE Scholarship recipient  
  • Sekerkhi Anderson, acceptance from Bates College
  • Brianna Cook, acceptance from American University
  • Kavon Holley, acceptance from the University of Rochester, POSSE Scholarship recipient 
  • Amber Hudson acceptance from the University of Rochester, POSSE Scholarship recipient 
  • Markel Lucas, acceptance from Lincoln University
  • Dedric Dowing, acceptance from University of Connecticut
  • Stewart Gray, acceptances from Yale University; Stanford University; Pomona College

*This is the first time a Thurgood Marshall Academy PCS student has been accepted to an Ivy League university. 

Cesar Chavez PCS for Public Policy

To date, 84% of the Class of 2014 has been accepted to college. 

  • Bernice Hodge will attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a POSSE Scholar.
  • Luis Sanchez will attend Lafayette College as a POSSE Scholar. 
  • Malachi Byrd received a full, four-year scholarship to attend George Washington University

KIPP DC – College Prep PCS

  • Llewellyn “Xavier” Richie received a full, four-year scholarship to attend George Washington University

Capital City PCS

  • Minh-Hong Nguyen received a full, four-year scholarship to attend George Washington University. She will be the first in her family to graduate from high school and attend college.   


Posted by: PCSB at 1:57 p.m.
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Friday, March 28, 2014

Microsoft Host Annual Minority Student Day for High School Students

On March 14, Microsoft’s employee network group, Black at Microsoft (BAM) of the National Capital Area hosted 200 high school students at its annual Minority Student Day.  
Microsoft’s Chevy Chase office was abuzz with students from IDEA PCS, Richard Wright PCS, along with DC Public High Schools and other area high schools.  The theme for this year’s event was, “If I were the new CEO of Microsoft, the first 3 things I would do are…”  

Students heard from 
Victor Hoskins, DC’s Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, talk about his upbringing, college career, family, and what motivates him to be a better person.  He motivated the students to seek the highest level of education they can attain, and to look at public service as a career option.  Vince Menzione, Partner General Manager within Microsoft’s Partner Strategy and Programs business delivered a keynote too.  Mr. Menzione expressed to the students the need to be a well-rounded and balance individuals.

Posted by: PCSB at 5:30 p.m.
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Board to Discuss the Future of Options PCS at Public Hearing

PCSB will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, April 23 at 5:30 p.m. at Carlos Rosario International PCS (1100 Harvard Street NW) to discuss the future operations of Options Public Charter School. To submit a written comment or to sign up to testify, email Sarah Medway at  

Posted by: PCSB at 10:06 a.m.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Board to Hold Two Community Input Hearings for New Charter School Applications

As part of the rigorous new charter school review process, PCSB has scheduled two public hearings on April 22 and 23 to invite community members to comment on this year’s eight charter school applications. 

The public hearings are an opportunity for community members to provide feedback about a proposed charter school.

In addition to the hearings, member of the public can submit written comments to The deadline to submit public comments is April 25.  

Public hearings will be held at Carlos Rosario International PCS (1100 Harvard St NW): 

         Tuesday April 22 | 6:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.

Proposed Public Charter Schools: Educare, Children’s Guild DC, Monument Academy, Washington Global, One World, and Washington Leadership

Wednesday April 23 | 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Proposed Public Charter Schools: Xcelerate Institute, and SPACE

As part of that process, PCSB staff will review each application, conduct a capacity interview, and, if applicable, visit existing programs or schools run by the applicant group.

The PCSB Board plans to vote on the applications at its monthly public meeting on May 19.

To read the full applications please visit, Start A Charter School website page

Posted by: PCSB at 6:30 p.m.
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Monday, March 24, 2014

At Howard University’s Middle School of Mathematics and Science, Mayor Gray Presents the (MS)2 Striving for STEM Excellence Awards

Mayor Gray reaffirmed his commitment to STEM education as he recognized the student scholars and faculty for their outstanding academic achievement and overall contribution in STEM education at Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science PCS (MS)2, this morning.

Student Scholars and educators were presented with the (MS)2 Striving for STEM Excellence Awards for their academic excellence in STEM education. 

The ceremony begin with a cheer from the Howard University’s (MS)2 cheerleaders, followed by the Assistant Principal of Operations welcoming all the distinguished visitors, corporate partners and public school partnerships.  Executive Director Yohance Maqubela introduced Mayor Gray. 

Howard University (MS)2 also recognized their school partnerships with Washington Math Science Technology PCS and Anne Beers Elementary School. OSSE recently awarded them an opportunity to share their best practices with other public and public charter schools in DC. 

The ceremony’s distinguished guests include: Mayor Gray, Vice Board Chair Darren Woodruff, and corporate partners Microsoft, Comcast, Black & Missing Foundation, and the Clearly Mobile Innovative Coalition. 

Posted by: PCSB at 3:44 p.m.
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Friday, March 21, 2014

DC International School Holds its First Council Day

             Nobody can tell the story better than the students and their families.

On March 20, DC International Public Charter School (DCI) hosted its first Council Day. The new language immersion public charter school will serve grades 6-12 and open in August. Roughly, 30 parents urged Chairman Mendelson and Councilmembers Catania, Wells, Bowser, Evans, and Grosso or their legislative staff to restore $6 million in city funding that will renovate their permanent school building. They also educated the councilmembers about the need for a language immersion middle and high school, like DCI.  The parents plan to continue their efforts to ensure DCI has a permanent location.

Prior to Council Day, more than a dozen DCI parents and students testified at a hearing on March 15 that Councilmember David Catania held.  

Posted by: PCSB at 5:35 p.m.
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

DC CAS Test Integrity Investigation Identifies Critical Irregularities at Two Charter Schools


DC’s state education agency, Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), released today the results (above) of their annual testing integrity study.  This study examined testing irregularities at 195 schools, DCPS and charter, on the 2013 statewide assessment – the DC CAS.

The investigation includes selecting groups for further analysis by two methods: at random, and based on a statistical methodology. The findings placed school violations in three categories:

  • Critical, which includes test tampering or academic fraud;
  • Moderate, which includes anomalies with defined violations but not test tampering or fraud; and
  • Minor, with procedural infractions.  

PCSB takes test assessment administration very seriously, as the results are used in our Performance Management Framework (PMF) to determine school academic performance. In addition to OSSE’s test monitoring, PCSB received OSSE test observation training and observed an additional 12 schools during the 2013 test administration, sharing our observations and work with OSSE. We will continue offering this additional oversight this year.

The testing report defines irregularities as wrong-to-right erasures, score variation within classrooms, as well as unusual gains or declines from 2012 to 2013.  Flagged irregularities were followed up by on-site investigations at schools and interviews, leading to final determinations.

The results show that testing groups in two public charter schools had critical violations: Ideal PCS and César Chávez PCS for Public Policy – Parkside Middle.  The DC CAS results will be invalidated and the school will be required to create an corrective action plan, and will have enhanced monitoring during the 2014 DC CAS testing period, which starts later this month.

There were testing groups at five public charter schools with moderate violations: Achievement Prep PCS; César Chávez PCS for Public Policy – Parkside High; Maya Angelou PCS; Paul PCS; and Perry Street Prep PCS

There were three charter schools that had testing groups with minor findings: Community Academy PCS; Options PCS and Friendship PCS - Technology Prep Academy.

PCSB’s approach with the affected schools is initially to reach out to those schools’ boards of trustees to learn what steps they are taking to address the violations and to ensure that these steps are commensurate with the gravity of the violation. Ideal PCS and Perry Street PCS recently underwent 15-year charter renewals and were renewed for an additional 15 years. We are eager for OSSE to recalculate the median growth percentiles and proficiency scores for these schools and will make a determination of possible consequences once we see the results.  We may also discuss this issue at our next monthly board meeting.

Beyond these specific cases, there are common-sense steps schools can take to reduce the likelihood of test violations in a single testing group.  These include having a different test monitor than the person who normally teaches this class. 

We appreciate the thoroughness of the security investigations by OSSE and we see the results with fewer schools each year being found with any issues.

School Summary Reports

Achievement Prep PCS 

 View Report 

 Maya Angelou PCS

 View Report

 César Chávez PCS for Public Policy - Parkside Middle

 View Report

 César Chávez PCS for Public Policy - Parkside High

 View Report

 Friendship PCS - Technology Prep Academy

 View Report

 Ideal Academy PCS

 View Report

 Options PCS

 View Report

 Paul PCS 

 View Report

 Perry Street Prep PCS 

 View Report

 Community Academy PCS - Amos 

 View Report

Naomi Rubin DeVeaux is PCSB's Deputy Director. She leads the School Performance Department, which is made of up of four teams that are responsible for the development and implementation of qualitative and quantitative tools to evaluate DC’s public charter schools. 

Posted by: Naomi Rubin DeVeaux at 5:36 p.m.
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