What’s up at DC schools? Student enrollment

Student enrollment is growing at public schools across all eight wards in D.C. — up 4% from last year.

“I am proud to announce student enrollment is up in our public schools,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said Tuesday at a ceremony at MacFarland Middle School, in the Petworth neighborhood.

“For the first time since 2006 [public schools] enroll more than 50,000 students,” Bowser said.

Preliminary data show that students at D.C. public schools reached 51,060 in the 2018-19 school year. Public charter schools experienced a slight drop in enrollment to 43,556.

School officials pointed out that enrollment at charter schools has nearly doubled since the 2007-2008 school year. Charter enrollment may increase next year, with the charter board approving five new schools and two existing charter schools having just opened second campuses set for expansion.

Courtesy District of Columbia Public Schools

“The overall 1.7% increase in our enrollment and DCPS’ impressive 4% increase are a clear indication that families are increasingly confident in our public schools and the quality of education that our children are receiving across our city,” said Hanseul Kang, head of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

The 4% increase came from in-boundary enrollment — that’s the school that a student has a right to attend, which can also be called a feeder-pattern school.

A D.C. Public Schools news release said that the growth was in all eight wards and attributes it to strong programming for students and families, focus on feeder school and in-boundary engagement, targeted marketing and recruitment strategies, and excitement around modernized buildings.

DCPS said that there was growth in its middle and high schools, as well, most notably, 34% growth at Brookland Middle School in Ward 5 and 40% growth at Coolidge High School in Ward 4. It is also the first time in six years that a cohort of ninth-grade students increased at DCPS.

“The historic enrollment growth DCPS is seeing is a testament to the incredible work our school leaders and educators do every day to meet the needs of our students,” said D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee.

The 2019-2020 school year also saw the launch of Bard High School Early College DC in Ward 7 and Early College Academy at Coolidge High in Ward 4. These schools give students the opportunity to earn their high school diploma, take college-level courses and earn an associate’s degree. D.C. also opened the new Ida B. Wells Middle School in Ward 4.

DCPS has a goal of serving 54,000 students by 2022, according to its strategic plan that was released in 2017.

“My priority is to provide a great school in every neighborhood at every grade level,” Ferebee said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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