Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School has since its inception been a leading academic institution teaching at-risk students in Ward 8. Over 70 percent of the school’s population qualifies for free and reduced lunch and practically all of its pupils are African American. Yet it has boosted some of the city’s best marks on the DC CAS and has been a DC Public Charter High School Tier 1 school for each of the years that the tool has been utilized. I interviewed the school’s then executive director and co-founder Josh Kern in 2011.
It appears that the pattern of preparing students for success in college has continued with the transition to Common Core Standards and the PARCC examination. Last week, the Office of the State Superintendent for Education released high school test scores which mostly measured 10th grade performance. For Geometry, Thurgood Marshall students came in at 13.1 percent proficient compared to 7.0 percent on average for D.C.’s charter sector and 10.0 percent for DCPS as a whole. For economically disadvantaged students the number for Thurgood was 11.4 percent in the same subject, with charters and DCPS at 4.2 percent.
In English Language Arts Thurgood Marshall students stand out even more. For all of their kids the proficiency number is 56.6 percent, while for charters it is 23.0 percent and for the traditional schools 25.0 percent. In the category of economically disadvantaged students TMA came in at 58.6 percent proficient with charters at 19.1 percent and DCPS recording 16.5 percent.
How did they do it? The school is direct in its answer:
“When the District announced the transition to PARCC in 2011, TMA took a number of steps to prepare, including aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessments with the new, more rigorous Common Core standards. ‘Our leadership, faculty, and staff have worked to revise our curriculum to meet the demands of the common core state standards,’ said Kena Allison, the school’s Interim Head of School who has also served as a TMA science teacher and instructional coach for several years. ‘We continue to work diligently to make sure our students are ready for the rigors of a college education.'”
Now let’s see other schools follow this impressive lead. Elementary and middle school PARCC results should be available in a few weeks.