Since education news has been quiet this week I decided to spend a few minutes on the FOCUS data center dashboard. The schools I decided to look at this morning are DC Prep Public Charter School and The William E. Doar, Jr. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts. I picked these facilities for a couple of reasons. First, I was a founding board member and board chair of Doar, and I'm very familiar with the location of these institutions. DC Prep elementary and middle school and Doar are located mere feet from each other on a small strip of Edgewood Street, N.E. in Washington, D.C. near the Metro railroad tracks.
Both schools started around the same time although I know that D.C. Prep's middle school came a few years after the elementary school was established. Each must pull from a similar student population because most parents enroll their kids in charters near their homes. But the academic results could not be more different.
On the 2013 DC CAS Doar students scored on average 47 percent proficiency or greater in reading and 44 percent proficiency or greater in math. These statistics are below the state proficiency averages of 50 percent in reading and 53 percent in math, although the school recorded a significant increase in last year's math proficiency rate of 35 percent. The reading proficiency rate in 2012 was 50 percent. Doar is a Pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade school. DC Prep's elementary, a Pre-Kindergarten through third grade school, had 68 percent proficiency or greater in reading and 76 percent proficiency or greater in math. That's a difference between the two charters of 21 points in reading and 32 points in math. But there's more to the story.
To get a better comparison you have to include DC Prep's middle school which goes from fourth grade to eighth since Doar also goes up to that grade level. Here DC Prep students recorded an astonishing 79 percent proficiency or greater in reading and 92 percent proficiency or greater in math. Now the differences in DC CAS results between the institutions are 32 percent in reading and 48 percent in math for student proficiency levels.
Now please don't get me wrong. I'm honestly not trying to pick on Doar PCS. There are similar comparisons that can be made across town. But the fundamental public policy question that must be asked is why Doar is allowed to continue operating when those students could be educated by a much more successful program that share a driveway? Until we have the courage to ask questions such as this and take decisive, extremely difficult actions based upon the responses we will never really be able to provide each and every child in the nation's capital with a quality academic seat.