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Advancing educational equity in DC

Education Forward DC
Education Forward DC

Each of DC’s 90,000 students deserves a public school that sets them up to thrive

How public education has evolved in DC

Our work exists within the much larger context of how public education has evolved in the District over many decades. In just the past ten years we have seen encouraging progress that demonstrates the promise of continued efforts to better serve students and families.

Prior to the pandemic, data showed that the education ecosystem in DC was improving. On many national metrics, DC students across grades and demographic groups were closing the gaps with their national and urban district peers.

The work must continue

However, not every student has benefited equitably from this progress. Despite overall improvement in student outcomes, only a third of public school students are getting the support they need to be on track for future success.

More students are prepared for college and career, but there is still room for improvement

Unsurprisingly, these gaps in outcomes are experienced most by the students who start out furthest from opportunity—those considered “at-risk” for academic failure, students with disabilities, and students who are English language learners—that are disproportionately students of color who face pervasive, systemic racism.

Percentage of student groups on track for college and career readiness

  • Students considered “at-risk” 19% 19%
  • English language learners 21% 21%
  • Students with disabilities 8% 8%
  • Black students 17% 17%
  • Latinx students 21% 21%
  • White students 79% 79%

The right work yields long-term impact

Since 2016, Education Forward DC has supported DC education leaders, schools, parents, and students to make meaningful improvements in schools. From an increase in resources, improvements in academic achievement, and additional quality options for students, the landscape of education in DC is changing for the better. Our work to create a path forward for all DC students — especially those furthest from opportunity — isn’t finished. 

Our goal by 2026 is to double the proportion of schools in the District of Columbia that provide students high quality, high-equity experiences that meet their full academic, social, and emotional needs.


The Ingredients

DC education has shown strong improvement due to persistent efforts to increase accountability, investments, leadership, family input.

Increased accountability
A focus on quality and outcomes, and who is responsible for them.

  • Direct mayoral responsibility for schools with oversight from the DC Council.
  • A strong charter school board holding schools to a high standard
  • A State Superintendent and Board of Education focused on statewide responsibilities and oversight.
  • Federal law requiring better measurement of student achievement and growth.

Strong Leadership & Talent
Entrusting leaders and investing in educators means students go to schools lead by talent invested in their success.

  • Public charter schools provide autonomy to leaders to be responsive to the needs of their families and students.
  • Salary increases and chances for merit-based pay bonuses help to attract and retain teachers.
  • Educator evaluations that retain the system’s most impactful teachers.
  • New opportunities for teacher certification and placement

Greater Investments
After years of neglect, education is a fiscal priority for city leaders.

  • Sustained, historic investments in per student funding.
  • Improved facilities for both traditional public and public charter schools.

Family Voice and Choice
Better information and diverse choices have empowered families as they navigate the system.

  • DC School Report Card provides parents with a user-friendly understanding of school’s
  • Both traditional public and public charter schools offer diverse school models responsive to individual students’ needs.
  • A common lottery with a single application provides greater and more equitable access to citywide school options.

The Future

Washington, DC will fulfill its potential to be a model of excellence in public education when our public schools support every student to thrive. Over the coming years, we will continue investing in visionary education leaders focused on recovering from the pandemic, dismantling inequity and empowering students and families.
See our work

Our goal by 2026 is to double the proportion of schools in the District of Columbia that provide students high quality, high-equity experiences that meet their full academic, social, and emotional needs.

Education Forward DC
Education Forward DC

Every DC student deserves to thrive.