Analysis: Public Charter School Seats By STAR Rating

In the release of this year’s School Quality Report, DC PCSB highlighted that for the fourth straight year, more public charter school students than ever attend a top-ranked public charter school. DC PCSB tracks this percentage of high-quality seats in the public charter sector annually, defining quality on the Performance Management Framework as those schools earning a Tier 1 status. For the past eight years, only public charter schools were evaluated on the School Quality Report.

However, with the December 2018 release of the DC School Report Card for the first time, STAR ratings now provide students and families with a look at quality options available across the city. Here’s a couple of helpful facts about the availability of quality seats in DC this school year.

Overall...DC public charter schools currently offer a higher percentage of their seats to students at schools with a STAR rating of 3 or higher compared to DC Public Schools (DCPS) (71.7% to 66.1%). More DCPS students attend highest-scoring (STAR rating of 5) and lowest-scoring (STAR rating of 1) schools, but 66.3% of public charter students attend a 3 or 4 STAR school.


% of UPSFF Enrolled Students by STAR Rating (SY 2018-19)







Total (#)

Public Charter Schools















Across the city...

  • Public charter schools currently educate 21,389 students in schools that earned a STAR rating in Wards 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7; of those, 0 students attend a school with a 1 STAR rating

  • Public charter schools offer the only 4 STAR seats in Wards 7 and 8, across 7 different schools that among them educate all grades PK3-12. These schools are:

    • Center City PCS - Congress Heights

    • DC Prep PCS - Benning Elementary School

    • DC Prep PCS - Benning Middle School

    • KIPP DC - Heights Academy PCS

    • KIPP DC - Promise Academy PCS

    • KIPP DC - Quest Academy PCS

    • Thurgood Marshall Academy PCS

  • DCPS offers the only public school seats in Ward 3, where 100% of students attend either a 4 or 5 STAR school

    • Outside of Ward 3, 32.5% of public charter school students attend a 4 or 5 STAR school, compared to 23.6% of DCPS students.

Across the grade levels...

  • Public charter schools offer fewer 4 or 5 STAR seats at each high school grade level, but also offer a far lower percentage of 1 STAR seats** (3.9% to 25.4%) to high school students as an overall percentage of each respective sector.

  • 3,707 public charter school students in grades PK3-2 attend schools that did not receive a STAR rating (compared to 670 DCPS students); this is largely a result of the unique grade configurations in the charter sector, where many schools specializing in early childhood learning do not serve any state-tested grades.

  • Public charter schools offer a higher percentage of 4 and 5 STAR seats at the late elementary grade levels (e.g., Grades 3,4 and 6), with DCPS offering a slightly higher percentage of 4 and 5 STAR seats at the early elementary and late middle school grades

    • It should be noted that many public charter schools ending before Grade 3 did not receive a STAR rating due to minimum point thresholds, and many of those schools earn Tier 1.

One last that both PMF tiers and STAR ratings aim to reflect the core, common qualities of strong academic programs, but cannot alone tell the full story. Different schools earn different scores for different reasons, and it’s important to explore further into the programs and options available for DC public school students to get a full sense of what school is best for you or your student.

For more information on the STAR ratings and DC School Report Card, visit For more information on the quality of adult and early childhood public charter schools that did not receive a STAR rating, visit to explore performance on the School Quality Reports, DC PCSB’s resource for evaluating school quality.

As a note on the data...each percentage is calculated out of the total number of seats offered at schools with a STAR rating in each sector (excluding students at schools that did not receive a STAR rating on the DC School Report Card).

* Of the 43,911 students attending public charter schools this school year (SY 2018-19), 78.3% of students attend schools with STAR ratings on the DC School Report Card and are represented in this analysis. Most of the students not captured in the STAR ratings attended adult programs (not measured by the STAR framework) or early childhood schools (those that did not earn enough possible points to receive an overall rating due to not serving state-tested grades).

** The only public charter high school that earned 1 STAR, National Collegiate Preparatory PCS, will be closing at the end of SY 2019-20.

A full workbook by grade, ward and STAR rating can be found here.



Add new comment