D.C. charter school student wait list drops; appears to be first time in sector history

The Performance Management Tier 1 charter schools with the greatest backlog of over 1,000 students include Latin American Montessori Bilingual PCS, Washington Latin Middle PCS, Elsie Whitlow Stokes PCS Brookland Campus, DC Bilingual PCS, District of Columbia International PCS, Munde Verde PCS J.F. Cook Campus, Two Rivers PCS 4th Street Campus, Washington Yu Ying PCS, and Basis PCS.

This week the DC Public Charter School Board released its wait list data for the next school year based upon the My DC Lottery results and for the first time in the history of the local movement the number has decreased from the previous term. The number on the list is 10,771 individual names attempting to get into one or more schools. This compares to 11,317 students waitlisted last year for a decrease of 5.1 percent.

The number is still exceedingly high but it it exceptionally interesting that we have seen a drop. The reason for the decline is easy to understand.

Parents have given up trying to get their children into many of these schools.

We don’t know at this point what will happen with school next term. In an article in today’s Washington Post by Perry Stein and Donna St. George the reporters say the KIPP DC PCS is looking at various possibilities:

“Adam Rupe, spokesman for KIPP DC, the city’s largest charter network, with seven campuses, said the network is exploring multiple options, including having prolonged summer school or a longer academic year in 2020-2021.

If officials allow schools to bring limited numbers of students into buildings, Rupe said, Kipp has discussed giving students with special education needs or students in transition grades, including sixth and ninth grade, extra instruction time. The network has explored what it would look like if some students reported to school on certain days, to ensure schools do not create a health hazard by having too many people in buildings.”

I feel terrible for what parents are going through right now. Adding to their stress is where their children will go to school. And when.

One thought on “D.C. charter school student wait list drops; appears to be first time in sector history

  1. I don’t think people have given up applying to Tier One schools. Instead, I think we are seeing that more people are getting into schools they want. That’s good news! Over the years PCSB has authorized opening of new campuses of many of the most in-demand Tier One schools, including Two Rivers, DC Prep, EW Stokes, Lee Montessori, Mundo Verde, and soon, Washington Latin. Families are discovering “hidden gems” (Tier One schools with small or no waitlists) like Friendship Woodridge and Cedar Tree Academy. The STAR system is alerting people to highly-rated DCPS schools they might have previously overlooked. And, finally, there are signs that, pre coronavirus, citywide 0-18 population growth was slowing a bit.

    Post-corona, it’s difficult to predict what happens. I could make a good argument that public school enrollment will grow (fewer families can afford private schools, DC will be relatively prosperous compared with other places, cities grew sharply after the 1918-19 flu epidemic, more folks will enroll in adult charters to skill up if they can’t find work). But it’s also easy to imagine enrollment declining if people choose or are forced by economics to leave DC for less dense, less-costly places. Like so many things about coronavirus, we just don’t know how this will play out.


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