Fulfilling the Charter Promise: A Proposal to Amend the DC Public Charter School Board's High School Accountability Policy
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Washington, DC’s public charter school movement was billed as a promising alternative to the struggling District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). The District is over twenty years into its public charter school experiment, and evidence suggests public charter schools are performing no better than DCPS. Reading and math proficiency, graduation, dropout, and college enrollment rates all indicate that public charter high schools are not sufficiently educating their students. The DC Public Charter School Board, the sole authorizer of the city’s public charter schools, uses an academic accountability policy known as the Performance Management Framework (PMF) to assess school quality. The most recent PMF identifies half of the District’s public charter high schools as high-performing, despite evidence demonstrating schools’ weaknesses. This capstone project proposes a PMF policy amendment designed to improve the Board’s ability to identify public charter high school deficiencies. The amended PMF policy could spur programmatic adjustments at the school-level, potentially resulting in positive academic outcomes for DC public charter high school students.