Almost half of the K-12 students in Washington D.C. attend charter schools. Success in performance contracting has been extended to early learning, residential education and adult education.

Charter Pre-K. AppleTree Institute started 20 years ago as charter incubators focused on the achievement gap. Big gaps in secondary schools drove them to early learning. They created a lab school with 30 kids in a church basement.

Washington D.C. extended its charter legislation to early learning (the only jurisdiction to do so) allowing AppleTree to gain authorization and expand as a charter management organization. Today, AppleTree serves 800 three and four year olds on eight campuses–1200 learners on 10 campuses next year.

The Every Child Ready curriculum was developed with federal i3 grant funding. It includes curriculum (what to teach), professional development (how to teach) and assessment (how do we know if it worked). It includes 10 units plus 1 for summer and 1 for yr round  campuses (12 total) and over 100 Books that reflect students served.

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Every classroom has a teacher, a Fellow and a Teaching Assistant. With comparable funding to elementary schools (about $15,000 per student) starting teachers make $50,0000-60,000 (about twice what early childhood teachers make in most cities).

Early care starts at 7:30. The school day runs from 8:45-3:15. Extended care is available until 6 p.m. Revolution Foods provides breakfast and lunch.

The goal of the program is kindergarten readiness. Many students leave reading chapter books requiring kindergarten teachers to adjust their expectations.

In addition to early learning charter schools, the DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB) authorizes residential and adult education charter schools.

Residential Learning. The SEED School of Washington is a public, college-preparatory boarding school. More than 320 students in grades 6-12 attend SEED and live on campus Sunday through Friday, enabling them to benefit from an integrated curriculum that incorporates academic, extracurricular and life skills learning.

SEED founders Eric Adler and Rajiv Vinnakota successfully lobbied Congress and the city council to provide additional operating funds for boarding schools in the District of Columbia. The SEED Foundation now operates residential schools in Florida and Maryland.

Adult Education. Academy of Hope, Carlos Rosario and Goodwill are examples of public charter schools that receive about $7,000 from the D.C. government to serve adult learners.

PCSB has a track record of providing rigorous oversight leading to closure or improvement of low-performing schools and expansion of high-performing schools.

There are 114 public charter schools in Washington, D.C., operated by 62 nonprofits, located in 102 facilities.

For more on Washington D.C. schools see:


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1 COMMENT

  1. DC’s efforts to serve parents and young children definately deserves review. Major upcoming expansion includes Briya Charter by Mary’s Center. Replication issues may be stymied by state laws that dont provide equal access by adults to an education and cost issues. Thanks for shining the spotlight.

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