DC Prep Releases 20th Anniversary Report

In celebration of our 20th year of operation, DC Prep is thrilled to announce the release of its 20th Anniversary Report.

DC Prep’s mission is to bridge the educational divide in Washington, DC by increasing the number of students from underserved communities with the academic preparation and personal character to succeed in competitive high schools and colleges. We work hard to honor the faith our students’ families have placed in us to deliver a great education for their Preppies. 

Founded in 2003 as one middle school in Ward 5 with 100 4th and 5th graders, DC Prep has now grown to six campuses across Wards 5, 7, and 8, serving over 2,100 students in PK3-8th grade. Throughout our history, DC Prep has consistently been one of the highest-performing public charter school networks in our nation’s capital, and 100% of our eighth-grade graduates are accepted to college-prep high schools.

“Reaching 20 years is only possible through a strong community,” said Dr. Patrick Clowney, DC Prep parent and Chair of DC Prep’s Board of Directors. “Each of us are stakeholders in the push to provide our children with a life-changing educational experience. The next 20 years rely on us and our ability to remain committed and innovative, even through hardships and challenges.”

DC Prep’s 20-Year Charter Review Approved

In DC Prep’s 20th year of operation, the DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB) unanimously voted to continue DC Prep’s charter for another five years.

Every DC charter school network or single-site charter school must complete the DC PCSB’s charter review process every five years. After 15 years in operation, each school or network is required to submit a renewal application requesting to renew its charter for another 15-year term.

The charter review includes an assessment of:

  1. Fulfillment of charter goals and academic achievement expectations;
  2. Compliance with the school’s charter and applicable laws; and
  3. Fiscal management and economic viability

At the DC PCSB’s January 23, 2023 board meeting, DC Prep presented highlights from the last five years, including how we have responded to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Several DC Prep alumni and parents testified during the Public Comment portion of the meeting, speaking to their positive and impactful experiences as part of the DC Prep community. DC PCSB Board Chair Lea Crusey remarked, “I think others will agree that the testimonies really suggest that this is a network that wants to persist beyond good.”

Thank you to all of our students, families, and staff for choosing DC Prep!  

For more on the DC PCSB’s renewal process, visit https://dcpcsb.org/charter-reviews-and-renewals

DC Prep Named 2022 Cognia School System of Distinction

DC Prep has been named a 2022 Cognia™ School System of Distinction for excellence in education. 

Cognia Schools and School Systems of Distinction are those that “effectively implement high-quality instruction, show consistent organizational effectiveness, maintain a commitment to continuous improvement, and demonstrate energetic and sustained commitment to learners.” This honor is bestowed on less than 10% of schools and school systems across the world that Cognia, a global nonprofit accrediting organization, reviewed in SY2021-22.

In our most recent Accreditation Engagement Review, DC Prep earned an Index of Education Quality (IEQ) score of 387 out of a possible 400 points. The five-year average of institutions in Cognia’s accreditation network is 278-283.

Cognia’s rigorous Accreditation Engagement Review process is based on research-based performance standards and includes a third-party review by education experts of evidence, interviews, and classroom observations. The evaluation covers Leadership Capacity, Learning Capacity, and Resource Capacity, as well as a demonstrated commitment to continuous improvement. 

“DC Prep is to be commended on their recognition as a School System of Distinction,” said Dr. Mark A. Elgart, president and CEO of Cognia. “Cognia Accreditation is already a mark of distinction recognized around the world. Being named a School System of Distinction further recognizes the commitment to education quality DC Prep has for its learners.”

Benning Elementary Campus Named 2022 National Blue Ribbon School

On September 16, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced our Benning Elementary Campus (BEC) as a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School, recognizing BEC as one of the District of Columbia’s exemplary schools. 

The U.S. Department of Education describes National Blue Ribbon Schools as “models of effective school practices for state and district educators and other schools throughout the nation.” Each year, the District may nominate up to three (3) public or non-public schools for consideration to the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. Nationwide, a maximum of 420 schools are considered each year.

This is the second time DC Prep has been recognized by the National Blue Ribbon School Program; Edgewood Elementary Campus (EEC) received the award in 2013.

To learn more about the U.S. Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon School Program, visit their website at https://nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov/

Congratulations to our BEC community for this national recognition!

2022 Accreditation Results

In its most recent accreditation review, DC Prep earned an Index of Education Quality (IEQ) score of 387 out of a possible 400 points. The five-year average of institutions in Cognia’s accreditation network is 278-283.

All DC public charter schools must undergo the accreditation process every five years to remain eligible for operation in the city. The accreditation process is conducted by an independent third-party accreditation organization to evaluate a school or network’s performance against a number of performance standards evaluating leadership, learning, and resource capacity.

Cognia (formerly AdvancED) conducted DC Prep’s accreditation review this year, during which the accreditation team analyzed submitted written evidence and conducted focus groups to interview network leadership, principals, members of the Board of Directors, and a small number of students, families, and teachers. 

The Index of Education Quality (IEQ) is “a holistic measure of overall performance based on a comprehensive set of standards and review criteria.” 


COVID-19 Updates and Resources

We care deeply about this community– as people, as learners, as dreamers and doers. Schools provide a range of important supports beyond instruction. We are committed to providing those supports–  meals, mental health supports and more– even though we are not able to run the hybrid model as we had planned. We are confident in our team’s ability to provide a high-quality virtual learning offering for all students– Preschool through 8th grade–and look forward to sharing more details soon.

Read about the latest COVID-19 updates:

Click Here

Anacostia Middle Campus Opening in Fall 2020

DC Prep, the highest performing network of charter schools in Washington, DC, will open our newest school, Anacostia Middle Campus, in the fall of 2020. Our sixth campus will open with 4th grade, and “grow up” each year through 8th grade. For its first two years, AMC will make a home in the basement of the Birney Elementary building at 2501 Martin Luther King Jr Avenue, SE. We are in the process of securing a permanent space for AMC.

We are also thrilled to announce that Ms. Neema Desai will be the principal of both AEC and AMC during SY20-21. Ms. Desai has demonstrated her ability to lead a high-performing school effectively by leading our Anacostia Elementary Campus for the past two years, and has previously served as the Assistant Principal of the Benning Elementary Campus and as a DC Prep middle school teacher.

An AEC Resident Principal, Ms. Katie Kuzma, will train alongside Ms. Desai in SY20-21, in preparation for leading AEC independently in SY21-22, when Ms. Desai will be fully dedicated to AMC. Ms. Kuzma will have a year to learn and grow, ensuring that AEC also has a proven leader to continue the school’s strong trajectory once Ms. Desai becomes the principal of AMC in SY21-22. This plan ensures both campuses have support, high quality leadership and lots of time to prepare for principal transitions.

To view more information on SY20-21 Enrollment for both Anacostia Middle and our other campuses, please click here.

OSSE DC School Report Card Results Released

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has released their 2019 DC School Report Card. Each of DC Prep’s eligible campuses (Edgewood Elementary, Edgewood Middle, Benning Elementary, Benning Middle) have earned 4 out of 5 stars for the 2nd year in a row.

The STAR Framework is DC’s statewide accountability system for all district and charter schools, mandated by the federal government and overseen by OSSE. It measures each school’s performance in Academic Achievement, Academic Growth, School Environment, ELL proficiency, and graduation rates. The STAR framework also measures each school’s success serving students with disabilities, students who are at-risk, English Language Learners, and each racial subgroup. Schools receive a STAR score of 1 – 5, with 5 stars being the best.

Additionally, for charter schools, the Performance Management Framework (PMF), is used by the DC Public Charter School Board to assess individual charter school performance.

The Charter Board’s Performance Management System uses a three-tier rating system (with 1 being the highest) and measures college and workforce preparation, English and Math achievement, year-to-year student academic growth, as well as family satisfaction as measured by re-enrollment rates. The Report also includes a description of each school’s unique mission along with other useful information to help families evaluate every public charter school.

For the 2018-19 school year, all eligible DC Prep campuses received a four-star rating from OSSE and a Tier 1 ranking from the Charter Board. By each measure, DC Prep is continuing to achieve our mission and providing a high-quality education to students in our city.

For more on the DC School Report Card, please click here.
To view the DC Public Charter School Board PMF results, please visit their website.

Three DC Prep Campuses Named 2019 EmpowerK12 Bold Performance Schools

Three DC Prep campuses – Benning Elementary, Benning Middle, and Edgewood Middle — were among the 28 schools recently recognized by EmpowerK12 for outsized gains among their at-risk students.

The Bold Performance award is given to schools serving a large number of at-risk students (those in foster care, experiencing homelessness, or whose families receive TANF) who have combined Math and ELA proficiency rates that are dramatically higher than schools serving a similar population. Benning Elementary and Edgewood Middle have achieved this honor annually since 2016, the inaugural year of the award.

Typically, the more at-risk students a school serves, the lower a school’s median student growth percentile, according to EmpowerK12’s analysis. Student achievement at Bold Performance schools, however, is an average of 10 growth percentile points more than schools serving a similar population, showing that academic success results from strong school leaders, data-driven instruction, and a warm social school environment significant regardless of social or emotional challenges – commonalities among the award winners and all characteristics of DC Prep’s schools.

We are proud of this honor, as well as the continued success of our hardworking students, staff, and DC Prep community.

All DC Prep Campuses Are Tier 1 on 2019 School Quality Reports

Earlier this week, the DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB) released their 2019 School Quality Reports, which offer a comprehensive overview of public charter schools in the city.

DC Prep is thrilled to share that, once again, all five schools in our network earned Tier 1 rankings, the highest rating for all public charter schools in the city.

“Our Tier 1 ratings reflect the strength of our community– the grit, intelligence and preparation of our students, and the fierce commitment that each of our families, teachers, and staff demonstrate for our students’ success,” said Laura Maestas, DC Prep’s CEO.

The PCSB measures a charter school’s performance on a variety of indicators including test scores, attendance, and re-enrollment rates, among others – and serve as a resource for families. School Quality Reports score each school between 0-100, placing the school in one of three performance tiers. Tier 1 are top-performing schools, Tier 2 are mid-performing, and Tier 3 are low-performing.

To view DC Prep’s official 2019 School Quality Reports, and to see PCSB rankings for other charter schools citywide, please click here.

2019 PARCC Results

On Monday, Mayor Bowser released the citywide 2019 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) results. We are very pleased to share that, for the eighth year running, DC Prep is the highest-performing network of public schools citywide.

Additionally, the 2019 PARCC scores for schools in Wards 5, 7, and 8, the communities in which our campuses are located, highlight the unequal access to great schools in our nation’s capital, which directly relates to our mission of bridging the educational divide in Washington, DC.

Note: 4+ designates students who scored Proficient or Advanced on PARCC.

Senior Academy PARCC performance. This year, 58% of our Senior Academy students were meeting or exceeding expectations in Math and 64% in ELA. This is on par with, or stronger than, the results at many of the most sought-after public schools in the city. And there is very little difference between the outcomes for our students overall and those who are considered “at risk” by the DC government (i.e., are homeless, in foster care, or receive TANF). Notably, our 7th and 8th grade “At Risk” scores were the highest in the city.

The state-level 3rd through 8th grade PARCC scores, issued by local education officials including the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), demonstrate the efficacy of DC Prep’s educational model and serve as a proof point for a high-quality, Common Core-aligned public education.

The District of Columbia adopted a rigorous national proficiency level on PARCC of 4+. The PARCC exam scores each student’s college and career readiness performance levels on a scale of 1 to 5 as follows:

  • Level 1: Did Not Yet Meet Expectations,
  • Level 2: Partially Met Expectations,
  • Level 3: Approached Expectations,
  • Level 4: Met Expectations, and
  • Level 5: Exceeded Expectations.

We always see opportunities to improve in service of our students, and will continue to work and ensure that all of our students receive an education that will enable them to succeed.

For more information about citywide results, click here.

*Students in 3rd through 8th grade were administered PARCC assessments in SY2016-17 at DC Prep’s Benning and Edgewood clusters. DC Prep’s Anacostia Elementary Campus opened in SY2015-16 with preschool and pre-k, and this year AEC third grade students will take the PARCC assessment for the first time. 

2019 PARCC results and DC Prep’s comparative standing are exclusively based on information released by OSSE as of August 19, 2019.

DC Prep Hosts Community Event on Gun Violence with Arne Duncan

On Wednesday, February 13th, DC Prep’s Anacostia Elementary Campus (AEC) hosted a community conversation on gun violence, featuring Arne Duncan, who served as Secretary of Education under President Obama. DC Prep students and staff, community members, and government representatives took part in the meeting.

The meeting was called in response to increased incidents of gun violence in the neighborhood, including seven rounds fired directly in front of AEC during dismissal. To protect their safety, students at AEC and nearby Ketcham Elementary have experienced four “lockdowns” this year. (A security procedure requiring students and staff to hide in darkened classrooms.) The stresses caused by these procedures were recently highlighted in a Washington Post article.

Mr. Duncan described his work with Chicago CRED, an organization that is tackling gun violence by connecting with young men whose lives have been marked by violence – either as a victim or a shooter. “We have a lot of kids who are trying to survive every single day,” Duncan said. “We have to give them safety to think long term and plan for the future,” he stressed, emphasizing the need to attack the root causes of violence, including joblessness.

Mr. Duncan was joined by AEC Principal Neema Desai and Rahman Branch, the former executive director of the DC Mayor’s Office of African-American Affairs. Raymond Weeden, DC Prep’s Senior Director of Policy and Community Engagement, led the panel discussion and took questions from the audience, including from a DC Prep middle school student who asked what students can do to help stop the violence and contribute to their communities.

Ms. Desai talked about the balancing act of keeping students safe while also honoring their need to be kids. Operations Manager Monique Moore, who is the parent of an AEC preschooler, spoke about the anguish of having to choose between a high-quality education or her child’s safety.

Weeden concluded the meeting by presenting a series of recommended actions informed by conversations with DC Prep families, teachers, and neighbors in Ward 8 that will be presented to the Mayor’s Office. If you would like join us in advocating for a safer community, please add your signature to our online Google petition. We will deliver the signed petition to the Mayor’s office by March 1st. Let’s keep our children safe. The time for action is now.