DC Chillin

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 08 2011

Why is it so hard to find?

Since I moved back to DC, I have been very interested in DC’s charter movement.  Charters now educate something like 40% of the kids in DC, and new charters seem to be sprouting up every year.

But if there’s a great resource for profiling and comparing DC’s charter schools, I haven’t found it.  Only through talking to people “in the know” in the ed reform movement have I been able to learn about which schools are generally regarded as among the best (the KIPPs, Haynes, DC Prep, SEED, Chavez, maybe more???) and which are generally regarded as crappy.

Why is it so difficult to find this information?

Shouldn’t some site that provides info about all of DC’s charters for parents, teachers, and educators exist?

7 Responses

  1. Ms. D

    I think you should make one.. if one doesn’t exist. Take Action. :) You’re awesome.

  2. Should exist? Probably. Unfortunately it seems to me that two main complications are the reason that it won’t, at least not successfully. The first is that the results of such a source would vary wildly depending on input factors and the weights attributed to it (think US News and World Report).

    The other is that perhaps parents, to whom I expect the resource should be targeted, might simply not make decisions in that way–perhaps word of mouth is more important to them, or location necessitates which charter schools they apply to, or any of a million things.

    This is a good question, and I’ll be thinking about it more I think.

  3. debryc

    The District of Columbia Public Charter Schools Board is one of the most respected chartering organizations in the country and a very open organization.

    Take a look at the performance report they have on public charter schools: http://www.dcpubliccharter.com/data/images/pcsb_spr_2009_webfinal.pdf

    Here’s their contact page as well: http://www.dcpubliccharter.com/Contact-Us.aspx. You could try asking for the data in the 2009 report in excel format so that you can manipulate the data for yourself (sorting by proficiency on state exams, for example). They may have easy access to this.

  4. debryc

    Also, scores on district exams are certainly a start, but I would also ask to visit the schools you flagged as interesting through the report. A learning walk can give you loads of information that scores don’t tell you:

    - What is the level of rigor in instruction?
    - What’s the joy factor?
    - How invested are the students?
    - What do teachers have to say about their school’s mission and environment?

  5. debryc

    One last resource: http://www.greatschools.org/, complete with reviews from parents.

  6. dcchillin

    I will be visiting Chavez Prep, DC Prep, and KIPP KEY over the next two weeks for pre-Institute observations. I’ll be sure to compare/contrast for those interested.

  7. Check out DCPCSB response to this question: https://twitter.com/dcpcsb/status/68388428579995648

    And, will be interested in your observations!

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