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. 

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