The month EmpowerK12 released the names of 14 District of Columbia schools that made its annual Bold Schools list. According to this organization’s web site bold schools are identified in this way:
“Schools are determined using the 2022 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) data and their Percent Proficient Above Expected (PPAE) calculations (using four sophisticated mathematical models) that project what percentage of students are expected to be proficient given a school’s demographics. Bold Performance Schools have proficiency rates for students at least 5.5 percentage points higher than how schools with similar demographics achieved pre-pandemic.”
“The 14 schools designated as Bold Performance Schools are DC Public Schools (DCPS) and DC charter schools, across elementary, middle, and high school grades; and serve student populations where students designated as at-risk make up at least 30% of the student population. This year’s Bold Performance Schools have 2022 PARCC proficiency rates that were an average of 9.1 percentage points better than other Bold-eligible schools, and their 2022 PARCC 4+ proficiency rates were 2.6 percentage points better than the pre-pandemic average for schools serving similar demographics.”
As you can see it is quite an academic achievement for these schools, especially coming out of the pandemic. Here is the list of facilities that includes those of both the charter sector and DCPS.
However, I want to highlight one of these schools because of its troubled past regarding standardized test scores. Back in 2017, when the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy faced its 20 year review with the DC Public Charter School Board it was nearly shuttered due to low academic performance.
Instead the PCSB prevented its Parkside Middle School from accepting any new students into its sixth grade with the end result of closing this campus. The remaining schools, Chavez Capitol Hill and Chavez Prep would also cease operations if they did not meet specific Performance Management Framework targets over the next three years. The charter board commented that the Local Education Agency was simply “not meeting its goals and student achievement expectations.”
Facing an extremely dire situation, the Chavez’ board turned to the TenSquare Group for assistance. The charter then started making news for something other than pedagogy. Some teachers at Chavez Prep were working hard to bring a teachers’ union to the school. Then, for academic, enrollment, and financial pressures that I described here in 2019, the charter decided to close Chavez Capitol Hill and Chavez Prep and consolidate these institutions at the Parkside location. The plan was always to one day rebuild the middle school.
At the time I described Josh Kern, TenSquare’s leader, to literary hero Howard Roark in Ayn Rand’s book The Fountainhead. Now we can recognize the magnitude of his team’s turnaround efforts. This year represents the first year since 2017 that the middle school will fill grades six through eight. Now, thanks to the analysis by EmpowerK12, both the middle and high schools fulfill the promise to provide a quality education to any student who needs one.