Local: Education

Charter schools get $1.1m to help DCPS

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Photo - Two charter schools have received grants to train instructors at Neval Thomas and Kenilworth elementary schools. (Examiner file photo)
Two charter schools have received grants to train instructors at Neval Thomas and Kenilworth elementary schools. (Examiner file photo)
Local,DC,Education,Lisa Gartner

The District is giving two charter schools $1.1 million to train teachers and boost student test scores at two lower-achieving DC Public Schools elementary campuses.

Dubbed "anchor schools," Cesar Chavez and Paul public charter schools will conduct weekly classroom visits and hold monthly workshops for the faculty at Neval Thomas and Kenilworth, both Ward 7 DCPS campuses east of the river.

While the traditional schools and public charters are often viewed as competing, school leaders say the two sectors are moving more toward collaboration as they try to improve educational opportunities for children in the District.

"There's a realization that we're in the same city and we have the same struggles and we're sharing the same kids," said Tracy Wright, the chief academic officer at Chavez. "A loss for us is a loss for the kids and a loss for the District of Columbia, so I think the mindset of 'you versus us' is really starting to dwindle away."

Chavez's Parkside campus is located close to both Thomas and Kenilworth and already provides aftercare and health services to these DC Public Schools students through an existing grant. Now, Chavez and Paul will use a $1.1 million grant from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to increase training for these DCPS teachers, particularly those unfamiliar with the national Common Core State Standards that the District is in the midst of adopting.

"The idea is to pair high-quality schools with low-quality schools to increase school [achievement] across the board," said Brandon Frazier, a spokesman for OSSE. "They have to work in tandem."

At Paul Public Charter School, 74 percent of students passed the DC Comprehensive Assessment System reading test in 2011, while 73 percent passed the math test, both well above the respective state averages of 48 and 52. Chavez, whose scores are closer to the state average, asked Paul to partner with them after Chavez received the grant.

Less than 25 percent of Thomas students can read proficiently, along with less than 30 percent of Kenilworth students.

lgartner@washingtonexaminer.com

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