Citywide Education Progress Report

Key Takeaways: Student and School Outcomes

The graduation rate in D.C. has been increasing, but enrollment in the city’s top-performing schools tilts toward white students.


Is the education system continuously improving?

► The city’s graduation rate has been increasing.

Data: Percent of first time 9th grade students graduating in four years, citywide.
Source: EDFacts Initiative, U.S. Department of Education, Assessment and Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rates Data, 2011-12 to 2014-15.

Do students have access to a high-quality education?

► In 2013-14, all students were enrolled in advanced math coursework at similar rates than the total high school population.

Data: Enrollment of students in math courses above Algebra II. Rates calculated by dividing the number of students enrolled in advanced math by the number of students in the school. Sub-group rates determined at the school level.
Source: U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, Civil Rights Data Collection 2013-2014.

► In 2013-14, 22% of students in D.C. enrolled in the city’s top-scoring schools. White students enrolled in top-scoring schools at much higher rates than they enrolled in medium- and low-scoring schools.

Data:  This figure shows whether students are equitably enrolled in the city’s top 20% performing schools, based on student proficiency in state reading assessments. Within a single student sub-group, we identify what percent is enrolled in top-, middle-, and low-performing schools. If the share of students enrolled in top-scoring schools citywide and the share of a particular sub-group are similar, this means that the sub-group is equally distributed across low-, middle-, and top-scoring schools.
Source: Performance and enrollment data District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent, 2013-14


Data & Scoring

Where did we get this data?

► Publicly available state and federal data, making our results comparable and reproducible.

► The most up-to-date data available for all 18 cities at the time of our data collection. See Methodology & Resources for more information.

What makes the data citywide?

► We include all charter and district schools within the municipal boundary of a city.

► In Houston, Indianapolis, Memphis, New Orleans, and San Antonio we use school data from multiple districts within the municipal boundary.


About Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., started opening charter schools in the mid 1990s. Currently, about half of the city’s schools are operated by the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). The DC Public Charter School Board (DCPCSB) authorizes the other half. The two organizations collaborate with other city agencies on many initiatives, including a common lottery system launched in 2013. A new chancellor took the helm of DCPS in 2017, but was replaced by Dr. Amanda Alexander as Interim Chancellor one year later.

School Choice in the City

All families have a right to attend their in-boundary school. Families can also apply to charter schools, out-of-boundary DCPS schools on a space-availability basis, and selective DCPS high schools.

Governance Model

DCPS and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education are under mayoral control. The Education Reform Amendment Act of 2007 also made DCPCSB an independent agency of the DC government and the sole authorizer of charter schools in the city.

2015 District and Charter Student Body

Enrollment: 87,344
Race and ethnicity: 72% black, 17% Hispanic, 8% white, 3% other
Low-income: 79% free and reduced-price lunch

2017 School Composition

Source: Enrollment data from EDFacts, 2014-15.
School data from researcher analysis of public records, 2016-17.

The Center on Reinventing Public Education is a research and policy analysis center at the University of Washington Bothell developing systemwide solutions for K–12 public education. Questions? Email crpe@uw.edu.