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Friday, October 19, 2012

Inside PCSB: Qualitative Site Reviews Underway

Image credit: KIPP DC: KEY Academy PCS

DC public charter school students may be seeing some new faces in the classroom. PCSB staff members and other observers are visiting schools to do Qualitative Site Reviews (QSR). PCSB is doing these in-person school visits to assess how DC public charter schools are performing at the ground level.

As a member of PCSB’s Charter Agreement Team, I am taking part in this work along with my colleagues. We are visiting charter schools that have been open for fifteen years, which is the length of a charter agreement. Those schools are filing petitions to PCSB for charter renewal. Schools may be selected for QSRs for other reasons.

What does a QSR entail? There are a few components: a scheduled full-day visit, during which classroom observations and focus groups with staff and students are conducted; an unscheduled visit, where only classroom observations are conducted; an observation of a parent event; and an observation of a Board of Trustees meeting.

During my initial school visits, I saw teachers who cared deeply for their students and their work employ creative teaching strategies in the classroom. I heard from administrators who were constantly thinking about how to best support students. It reminded me of one way charter schools are set apart from traditional public schools: DC public charter schools have the freedom to establish a school culture and education system personalized to the needs of their students. As I participated in student focus groups, it was readily apparent that students value this personalization and are learning better because of it. As one student put it, she considers her charter school “to be part of her family.”

Sarah Medway is a member of PCSB's Charter Agreement Team.  Prior to joining PCSB, Sarah  practiced at the law firm Seyfarth Shaw in New York, where she specialized in employment litigation. Following this, she worked in Kenya with Flying Kites, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising the standards of care for orphaned and vulnerable children.  Sarah graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Government, received a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and earned a LL.M. in Advocacy.

Posted by: Sarah Medway at
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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

PCSB 2012 Annual Report

We released our annual report this week and it sums up all the work PCSB did last year to open new schools, close low-performing schools and hold our schools accountable for academic and financial performance. Check out the 2012 report. (Check out annual reports from past years here.)

Posted by: Theola Labbé-DeBose at
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Monday, July 30, 2012

Welcome to the PCSB's New Blog!

Welcome to the D.C. Public Charter School Board's (PCSB) new blog! This blog was started to open a two-way dialogue about charter schools and charter school authorizing in Washington, D.C. We have a lot of information and insights to share about our role as the sole charter school authorizer in the city.

What types of topics will the blog cover?
  • PCSB’s oversight process;
  • PCSB Policies;
  • District and Federal policies that impact D.C. charter schools;
  • Charter school data;
  • Charter school accountability;
  • Insights on best practices among charter school authorizers;
  • Interesting tidbits about the city’s charter school leadership, staff, students, and communities;
  • Much more!
Meet the Bloggers:
Scott Pearson
Executive Director

Theola Labbe-DeBose
Director of Communications

Shenneth Dove-Morse
Senior Associate, Web and Social Media

You can also expect to see guest posts on the blog from PCSB Board members, PCSB staff, and members of the local charter school community in the future.  Feel free to interact with us by leaving comments, email us, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. We enjoy engaging with anyone interested in learning more about charter school authorizing and would be happy to answer questions readers have about the city’s 53 charter schools on 98 campuses.

Posted by: Shenneth Dove-Morse at
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