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Perfect score predicting which charter applications would be given green light

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A few weeks ago I sat through two consecutive evenings of D.C. Public Charter School Board meetings to listen to eight presentations on this year's applications for new charters to open during the 2015 to 2016 school term. The morning after each session I turned in my assignment of predicting the proposals that would be approved by the PCSB, and last night I obtained my grade. It turns out that I received an A with a perfect score of 100 percent.

The newly granted charters included Monument Academy, Washington Global, and Children's Guild. This means that the Board approved a little under 40 percent of those wanting to start schools, which closely matches the pattern of previous cycles. As I mentioned in an earlier article the quality of the applications has become stronger with most representatives promising to be Performance Management Framework Tier 1 on day one. This is a good development for the children of our city.

Most of the discussion revolved around Monument Academy, the charter for kids associated with the foster care system submitted by past PCSB member Emily Bloomfield. My sense was that the oversight group felt that there were aspects of the planned design that needed to be filled in more completely. In the end, the Board allowed the school's opening with conditions, the main one being that it serve grades five through eight with the proposed high school delayed for approval at a later date.

The most difficult one to anticipate was Washington Leadership Academy. While I wasn't thrilled with the group's presentation its founder is the same individual, Seth Andrew, who created the high performing Democracy Prep Charter Schools. But in the end the Board agreed with my analysis on this proposal and the others which can be reviewed here and here.

In other exciting news, Two Rivers, the Tier 1 charter with over 1,000 students on its waiting list, appeared at a public hearing regarding plans for replication. This was expected. But the surprise of the evening was the bid by Thurgood Marshall Academy to increase in size to 950 from its current enrollment of 420 students. This is another Tier 1 charter with plans to open a second campus in Ward 5 or 6. When I interviewed Josh Kern in early 2011 when he was executive director expansion was not even in the planning stage. It would do so by opening a ninth grade in 2015 and then add a grade a year up to twelve. Final approval for replication of these two excellent schools will come in June.

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