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City Study 2019: Washington DC- Summary of Findings

This summary highlights major findings about the academic performance of students in public K-12 schools in Washington DC. Performance is measured by one-year learning gains or growth students made from one school year to the next. We benchmark the growth of Washington DC students in each sector against the city average growth and then compare the progress of charter school students with that of similar TPS students within Washington DC, accounting for student characteristics.

Sector: In reading, students attending Washington DC charter schools experienced learning gains similar to the city average in the 2014-15 school year, outperformed the city average in 2015-16, and grew similarly to the city average in 2016-17. Students attending magnet schools in Washington DC outperformed the city average in 2015-16 and 2016-17 in reading. Students in Washington DC non-magnet TPS had reading growth similar to the city average in 2014-15, weaker than the city average in 2015-16, and caught back up to the city average in 2016-17. Within the city, students in magnet schools and charter schools experienced stronger reading growth than non-magnet TPS students in 2015-16. In 2016-17, Washington DC charter school students posted weaker reading growth compared to Washington DC TPS students.

In math, Washington DC charter school students outperformed the city average in 2014-15 and 2015-16, and performed similarly to the city average in 2016-17. Washington DC magnet school students did not differ in performance compared to the city average in 2015-16 and posted stronger gains compared to the city average in 2016-17. Washington DC non-magnet TPS students experienced weaker gains compared to the city average in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and caught back up to the city average in 2016-17. Cross-sector comparisons reveal that Washington DC charter school students exhibit stronger math gains compared to Washington DC non-magnet TPS in 2014-15 and 2015-16. Students in Washington DC magnet schools posted stronger math growth compared to students in Washington DC non-magnet TPS in 2016-17.

A deeper dive into Washington DC student growth for the period ending in Spring 2017 reveals the following findings:

Charter School Type: Washington DC charter schools do not differ from the city average in either reading or math, regardless of whether they are affiliated with a charter network. Furthermore, students in Washington DC charter schools affiliated with a charter network perform similarly to students in Washington DC independent charter schools in both subjects.

Race/Ethnicity: Black students in Washington DC charter schools and black students in Washington DC TPS do not differ in performance from the city average black student in either reading or math. Cross-sector comparisons reveal that Black students in Washington DC charter schools post gains similar to those for black students in Washington DC TPS in both subjects.

Hispanic students in Washington DC charter schools post weaker reading gains and similar math gains compared to the city average Hispanic student. Hispanic students in Washington DC TPS exhibit growth similar to that of the city average Hispanic student in both reading and math. Within Washington DC, Hispanic students in charter schools underperform in reading and grow similarly in math compared to Hispanic students in TPS.

Poverty, ELL, and Special Education:  Washington DC charter students in poverty (eligible for free or reduced-price lunch), students with ELL designation, as well as students receiving special education services do not perform differently than the average student in the city with similar characteristics, in either reading or math. Washington DC TPS students in poverty, ELL, and special education also do not show a significant difference in reading growth or math growth compared to the average student in the city with similar characteristics. Within the city, charter students in poverty, ELL students, and special education students do not differ in growth compared to TPS students with similar characteristics in either subject.

Gender: Washington DC female students in charter schools perform similarly to the city average female student in both reading and math. Washington DC female students in TPS exhibit stronger growth in reading and similar growth in math compared to the city average female student. Within the city, charter female students lag behind female students attending TPS in reading.

Male students in Washington DC charter schools post gains similar to the city average male student in both reading and math. This pattern also holds true for Washington DC male students enrolled in TPS. Cross-sector comparisons reveal no significant difference in performance between Washington DC male students in charter schools and Washington DC male students in TPS in either reading or math.