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Thursday, September 04, 2014

New Report: Suspensions and Expulsions Down, Attendance Up

For years, questions have been raised about the discipline policies at many public charter schools.  Two and a half years ago, PCSB launched an initiative that addressed the use of discipline and suspensions, as well as increase the vitally important in-seat attendance rate at public charter schools in the District. 

PCSB didn’t place new mandates on schools.  We didn’t pass a new law.  Rather we tried something new.  We shared information.  We let each school know where they stood in comparison to each other – and to the district average.  And we helped schools share what works for them with schools looking for answers.  The results have been excellent.  

We’re pleased with the report finding --public charter schools in the District have made big improvements on all fronts.   

First, expulsions overall have decreased by half over the past two years.  The number of expulsions has dropped from 237 students in school year 2011-12 to 186 students in school year 2012-13 and now to 139 students in school year 2013-14.  In 2012 0.8% of students were expelled.  In 2014 that rate has been cut in half, to 0.4%  We are now well within national norms for expulsion rates.  

Second, suspensions have decreased by a fifth in just the last year.  The percent of students with at least one out-of-school suspension went from 14.7% suspended in school year 2012-13 to 11.9% suspended in school year 2013-14. 

Third, attendance has increased.  In-seat attendance increased by nearly a full percentage point, from 90.7% in school year 2012-13 to 91.5% in school year 2013-14. This means every day about 300 additional charter school students are in school instead of absent!  

Fourth, truancy has decreased.  It’s down substantially from 18.8% in school year 2012-13 of public charter school students truant to 14.9% in school year 2013-14. 

We’re proud of the progress we’ve made, but we recognize there is still more room to improve.  This improvement happened because of the hard work of our charter school leaders.




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Posted by: PCSB at 11:20 a.m.
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Monday, February 17, 2014

Charter Schools in the District Send More Students to College


The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) released new data on DC public and public charter school students’ college outcomes. After taking a deeper dive into the data, we found five exciting findings:  

  • Overall Results

    To date, only 64% of 9th graders who start at a DC public or public charter high school graduate in four years. And of that only 57% enroll in college. Clearly, we’re losing a lot of students. (See a previous post on high school graduation rates, here). The city’s improvement over time is heartening, though. Since 2006, the college enrollment rate has increased from 47% to 57% – that’s 300 extra students enrolling in college every year. Charter schools are leading the way in improved college enrollment rates from 44% to 63% over the last seven years. Washington Mathematics Science Technology PCS, located in Ward 5, increased its college enrollment rate by more than 10 percentage points in one year! 

  • Schools with the Best College Enrollment Rates

    Three public charter schools consistently have the highest college enrollment rates compared to other charter schools:

  • SEED PCS (located in Ward 7)

    SEED PCS’s class of 2009 had the highest college enrollment rate of any charter school graduating class since 2009.

  • Washington Latin PCS (located in Ward 4)

    In 2012, Washington Latin PCS’s first graduating class had an 86% college enrollment rate – almost 10 points higher than any other school.

  • Thurgood Marshall Academy PCS (located in Ward 8)

        Thurgood Marshall Academy PCS’ has made amazing progress
        over the past seven years, from 42% college enrollment to 71%
        in 2012.

  • College Enrollment by Ward

The data showed astounding results for college enrollment.

Below you can see that Washington Latin PCS (86%) and Capital City PCS (74%), located in Ward 4,  have great college enrollment rates .  Note: Capital City PCS – High School draws students from almost every neighborhood east or south of the park. (For more info on what wards students commute from for each school, check out Code for DC tool:!/school/1118)






College EnrollmentBy Location of the Charter School Rate (2012)

Ward 4


Ward 8


Ward 5


Ward 7


Ward 1


Ward 6


  • College Graduation Rates are Misleading

OSSE also released college graduation data, and we were excited to see that the calculations included four, five, and six year graduation rates.  We find that there’s value in a college education, even if it takes a student more than four years to complete.

To really get a sense of how DC public schools are doing in supporting their students through college, the college graduation rate needs to include all students who graduated from the public school. Otherwise, schools that only help a handful of students go to college – typically their star performers – have higher graduation rates than those schools that send higher portions of their student bodies to college. Ideally, the college graduation rate would even include all of the students who started 9th grade – like an adjusted cohort graduation rate through college. That’s how we’ll really get to the bottom of how well our schools are serving DC students as they strive for success in college and careers. 

Mikayla Lytton is the Manager of Strategy and Analysis PCSB. 

Posted by: Mikayla Lytton at 11:30 a.m.
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