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Mayor Bowser Celebrates 10 Years of Education Reform at DC Public Schools

Thursday, October 5, 2017
After a Decade of Reform, DCPS Continues to Increase Achievement, Graduation, and Enrollment Rates

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser celebrated a decade of education reform at DC Public Schools (DCPS) at the DC Public Education Fund’s 10th Anniversary Philanthropy Forum, a convening of education thought leaders, representatives from local and national foundations, and peer education funds from cities across the country. Throughout ten years of mayoral control and with the support of $120 million in high-impact investments from the DC Public Education Fund (DC Ed Fund), DCPS has seen achievement, graduation, and enrollment rates continue to increase.

“For the past ten years, we have been able to make necessary, bold, and focused changes to transform a school system that underperformed for decades into the fastest improving urban school district in the country,” said Mayor Bowser. “While there is still work to do, the progress we have made thus far would not be possible without our partners like the DC Ed Fund who are willing to invest in innovative solutions that support our students, schools, and families.”

Earlier this year, Mayor Bowser announced that DCPS saw record gains in the number of students scoring a four or five on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment, including increases of 6.4 percentage points in English language arts and 3.5 percentage points in math. This growth was seen across grade levels and student subgroups.

“DC Public Schools has made tremendous progress in the last decade thanks to strong educators and leaders who believe that every student can be successful and thrive in school and life,” said Chancellor Wilson. “With Mayor Bowser’s support, I know we will continue to see more progress for all students, especially the students furthest behind. I look forward to the next five years of work under a new strategic plan that builds literacy skills, social emotional learning, and excellent schools for every student, every school, every day.”

The DC Ed Fund launched in 2007, when DCPS was ranked amongst the lowest performing school districts in the country and the same year the DC Council passed the DC Public Education Reform Amendment Act. Since 2015, the organization has played a key role in supporting the Bowser Administration’s initiatives to boost excellence and equity at DCPS. The DC Ed Fund has supported the Empowering Males of Color initiative, a bold public-private investment of $20 million over three years to advance achievement and opportunity and reduce racial disparities for boys and men of color across Washington, DC; study abroad trips for middle and high school students; and DCPS Cornerstones Assignments. In addition, each year, the DC Ed Fund hosts the Standing Ovation, an annual event to honor DCPS’s teachers, administrators, and school staff.

“Our investments support the groundbreaking initiatives that help make DCPS the fastest-improving urban school district in the nation,” said Jessica Rauch, President and Executive Director of the DC Ed Fund. “Locally and nationally, DCPS is recognized for its dramatic improvement over the last decade, and DC Ed Fund has established a strong model for how to collaborate with and empower a public-school system through private investments.”

Mayor Bowser and Chancellor Wilson recently unveiled a new five-year strategic plan for DCPS. Under a Capital Commitment 2017-2022, DCPS will strive to become a district of both excellence and equity—a place where every family feels welcomed and every child is given the opportunities and support they need to thrive. The plan sets forth bold goals for DCPS, including doubling college and career readiness rates, increasing high school graduation rates to 85 percent of students, and accelerating early literacy rates by ensuring 100 percent of K-2 students are reading on or above grade level. The DC Ed Fund will continue to support DCPS in reaching these goals.

Accelerating school reform continues to be a top priority for Mayor Bowser. In her Fiscal Year 2018 Budget, the Mayor invested $1.74 billion in public education, an increase of $121 million over last year’s budget and the largest investment in public education in the city’s history. In addition, the new teachers’ contract, which was unanimously passed by the DC Council this week, will provide an additional $110.5 million to DCPS and an additional $92.6 million to public charter schools from FY2017 to FY2021. 

The Mayor was joined at today’s event by DC Ed Fund President and Executive Director Jessica Rauch, and the event featured a variety of speakers, including: Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles, Chancellor Antwan Wilson, and former Chancellors Kaya Henderson and Michelle Rhee.