(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser visited KIPP Promise Academy, the highest performing charter elementary school in Washington, DC, to celebrate the District’s charter school investments and highlight Every Day Counts!, a citywide effort to increase student attendance. The Mayor was joined by Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles and District of Columbia Public Charter School Board Executive Director Scott Pearson
“As KIPP’s continued success reminds us, when we invest in education, we are investing in the future of our community,” said Mayor Bowser. “We know from schools like KIPP Promise Academy that when you work with families to get kids to school every day and you present students with high-quality experiences and opportunities to learn and grow, our young people achieve at the highest levels.”
Last week, Mayor Bowser announced significant citywide gains on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness in College and Careers (PARCC) test in school year 2016-2017. Citywide, the percentage of students who scored at a level four or five, indicating that they are on track for the next grade level or on track to graduate high school prepared for success in college and/or a career, increased by four percent in English language arts (ELA) and two percent in math.
“Here in the District of Columbia, we are committed to ensuring that all students, in all schools, across all neighborhoods have access to a high-quality education, and our charter schools are an important partner in that work,” said Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles. “I’m proud to work with our public and public charter schools to ensure our students are ready to excel in both college and their future careers.”
At KIPP Promise Academy, the Mayor continued to highlight the importance of students attending school every day as a part of the Every Day Counts! tour. School attendance is a key predictor of student achievement, and in DC, approximately one out of every four students is chronically absent, meaning they miss 10 percent or more of the entire school year. By sixth grade, missing 10 percent of the school year is strongly linked to dropping out of high school.
“At KIPP Promise Academy, every student, parent, and teacher is committed to making every day count,” said Promise Academy Principal Erin Huseby. “Our students love learning and we are so proud of what they’ve achieved academically. We’re glad Mayor Bowser is highlighting the importance of attendance and the role education plays in creating a stronger and more equitable District of Columbia.”
In the 2016-2017 school year, KIPP DC’s Benning Campus – including LEAP Academy, Promise Academy, and KEY Academy – had a 94 percent daily attendance rate. The school has built a strong academic culture that recognizes the critical importance of daily attendance by hosting monthly attendance celebrations, recognizing students for their commitment to getting to school every day, and maintaining consistent communication with families around attendance. Additionally, through community partnerships and programs like “Man the Block,” in which the men in students’ lives help provide safe passage to and from school by escorting them directly to class, Promise Academy is able to work with students and families to help address barriers to student attendance. And this year, through a partnership with the Rales Foundation, the school is making new investments in wraparound services and building partnerships with mental health providers who will work with families to ensure KIPP DC is educating the whole child.
In the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, Mayor Bowser continued her Administration’s commitment to making critical investments in DC’s public charter schools by providing charter schools with an annual 2.2 percent increase in the per pupil facilities allotment for the next four years. The Mayor also continues to invest in charter schools by making government-owned buildings available to public charter schools, ensuring students have access to safe, welcoming learning environments. This year, more than 1,000 students at the District of Columbia International School and the Latin American Montessori Bilingual Public Charter School will begin the school year at their permanent home on the campus of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Ward 4.
In 2015, Mayor Bowser also brought together 27 leaders, practitioners, advocates, and parents to form the Cross-Sector Collaboration Task Force, led by the Deputy Mayor for Education. The Task Force works to address important issues that impact DC Public Schools and DC public charter schools.
After ten years of education reform in Washington, DC, accelerating school reform continues to be a top priority for Mayor Bowser. In her Fiscal Year 2018 Budget, Mayor Bowser 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 proposed teachers’ contract will provide an additional $110.5 million to DCPS and an additional $92.6 million to public charter schools from FY2017 to FY2021.