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Congratulations to the Winners of
Fight For Children’s 2014 Quality Schools Initiative

Friendship Public Charter School—Chamberlain Campus

Friendship Public Charter School—Chamberlain Campus provides a rich learning environment purposely crafted to develop early academic success. Serving more than 700 students, Chamberlain is a public charter school serving DC students in grades preschool through eighth in Ward 6. Chamberlain strives to prepare its students for high school success leading to the completion of a four-year college degree.

Chamberlain is devoted to increasing its English Language Arts proficiency rate by 7% each year for the next three years. To attain this goal, Chamberlain plans to house a SMART Professional Development lab in the school where teachers and administrators can attend and host topical professional development sessions using shared technological resources. The school will use its award from Fight For Children to accelerate the development of the lab.

Kelly Miller Middle School

Kelly Miller Middle School was constructed in 1949 in Ward 7 as the first secondary school in the far northeast area of DC. Kelly Miller has a vision of becoming one of DC Public Schools’ flagships with a nurturing community for academic excellence. Its mission is to provide students with an education that supports innovation, creative thinking, and character development. The school currently serves over 300 students in sixth through eighth grades.

Kelly Miller is poised to build upon the work it has already begun and will continue to increase the academic achievement scores among its high potential, low-income students. Through its School-Wide Enrichment Model (SEM), Kelly Miller provides specific classes based on its student interests to further promote learning. Over the next three years, Kelly Miller plans to use its award from Fight For Children provide SEM training to all of its teachers to expand the program across its full student population.

About the Quality Schools Initiative

Fight Fight For Children’s Quality Schools Initiative is a unique awards program that recognizes schools that improve student achievement for low-income kids in DC and encourages exploration, discussion, and sharing of high-quality practices among school leaders across the city.

Fight For Children is excited to continue investing in DC schools that have strong leadership and a clear vision for the future of their students. We believe this support will give the schools already in the midst of change and improvement a catalyst to continue their upward trajectory and give more kids the education they deserve. An independent committee of leaders across DC’s education spectrum selected the winning schools and finalists based on a thorough evaluation of their applications and on campus visits.

In 2014, each winning school received $100,000 over two years to implement a targeted school improvement strategy designed to improve academic achievement even further.

These schools are working with Fight For Children to share their effective practices with other school leaders. In 2014, Fight For Children is proud to collaborate with the DC Public Charter School Board to host two day-long conferences that feature these schools, along with other local and national education thought-leaders. These sessions are free and are designed to ensure that the topics and speakers are truly relevant to the daily work of DC schools. This year’s inaugural conference held in May focused on reviewing specific strategies that school leaders can use to help with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and assessments.

View materials and videos from the 2014 Ahead of the Curve conferences here.

About the 2013 Quality Schools Initiative Winners

Columbia Heights Educational Campus

The largest secondary school in Ward 1, Columbia Heights Educational Campus, or CHEC as it is widely known, serves over 1200 students in grades 6 to 12. CHEC is committed to creating learning experiences which focus on rigor, relevance and social justice and Campus works diligently to have a unified approach to teaching and learning so that each grade builds on the next one. Every teacher, administrator, and staff member stands ready to work with each and every student, so that all students can experience academic success and excitement in learning. C

Columbia Heights Education Campus impressed the Selection Committee with its strong upward trend on testing proficiency in reading and math; strong command of its data analysis; diverse leadership team, including students; and strong attendance record. Its rate of attendance is high, particularly for a secondary school and demonstrates the level of student engagement present at the school. The school will use its Quality Schools Initiative award money to expand its dual language program into its high school grades, which will make the school the first dual-language public high school in DC. Through the implementation of this plan, the school hopes to increase reading and math proficiency, reduce the achievement gap for English language learners and special needs students, increase its four-year graduation rate, and improve the attainment of bilingualism for native Spanish and non-native Spanish speakers.

DC Bilingual Public Charter School

DC Bilingual Public Charter School is a learning community where high academic expectations are held for all students. Located in Ward 1 with 349 students, DC Bilingual cultivates a nurturing, engaging, multicultural environment where young leaders become bilingual and bi-literate in Spanish and English. Using an integrated approach, DC Bilingual aims to graduate culturally responsive leaders prepared to serve their local and global communities.

DC Bilingual Public Charter School impressed the Selection Committee with its focus on special education, strong student and parent engagement strategies, transparent teacher coaching model, and passionate leadership. Despite the physical challenges of utilizing two shared buildings as classroom space, the school staff makes the best of the situation to the benefit of the students. The school will use its Quality Schools Initiative award money toward a strategic plan designed to increase reading and math proficiency by 2015. Through the integration of a leveled text library, artifact library, and educational technology into its curriculum, along with increased special education professional development for its teachers, the school plans to close achievement gaps as well as improve the academic achievement of its overall student population.

About the 2012 Quality Schools Initiative Award Winners

On April 10, 2012, DC Deputy Mayor of Education De’Shawn Wright and DC State Superintendent of Education Hosanna Mahaley joined Fight For Children at our annual Quality Schools Initiative Awards Luncheon to recognize four outstanding DC schools. Capital City Public Charter Upper School, Cesar Chavez Public Charter School Bruce Prep Middle Campus, and DC Preparatory Academy Edgewood Elementary School each won Champion of Quality awards and a $50,000 grant from Fight For Children. Powell Elementary School was awarded a Rising Star award and a $25,000 grant.

Built on the bold vision of parents and educators of building a model school in the nation’s capital dedicated to the best practices in education reform, Capital City Public Charter School opened its Upper School Campus in 2008. The Upper School currently serves 294 students in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC. Graduating their first class of 12th grade students in 2012, Capital City Upper School’s mission is to graduate young adults who are self-directed, intellectually engaged and possess a commitment to personal and civic responsibility. Capital City is committed to educating the whole child with a strong academic curriculum and social curriculum focused on teaching students to care about themselves, each other and their environment.

Capital City Upper School is a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools Small Schools Network. As part of Network, the Upper School maintains small, personalized learning communities, which allow teachers and students to form strong relationships in a climate of trust, decency and high expectations. Additionally, Capital City utilizes project-based instruction through an expeditionary learning model. Teachers plan in-depth studies, which engage children in classroom projects, fieldwork, and community service. The thematic, long-term, multi-disciplinary expeditions motivate Capital City Upper School students and teachers alike by introducing new content and skills in a context of enduring ideas. Utilizing this model, Capital City Upper School consistently demonstrates above average academic achievement and high re-enrollment rates from year to year. For more information, visit www.ccpcs.org.

Chávez Prep is proud to welcome students from all over the District of Columbia into the historic Bruce building in Columbia Heights. Its mission is to equip students with the skills necessary for success in college and in life. A longer school year, emphasis on literacy and mathematics, and disciplined school environment develops well-rounded Scholars and provides the opportunity to compete with students from the most elite schools in the United States. Chávez schools strive to prepare DC students to succeed in competitive colleges so they can use their lives to make a positive difference in the world.

Chavez Prep serves students in grades 6 through 9, with over 90% of its students from low-income families and over 40% of its students identified as English Language Learners (ELL). In fact, the school has one of the highest populations of ELL students out of the Tier 1 (top-ranked) public charter schools in Washington, DC. Even with high low-income and ELL populations, the school is proud that these populations consistently outperform their peers in other DC schools in math. The success in math is attributed to the school’s rigorous math curriculum, with all 8th graders taking algebra. The students at Chavez Prep also maintain above average reading scores, and the school is implementing measures to ensure that the English Language Arts curriculum is as rigorous as the math curriculum. These measures include integrating literacy instruction into science and social studies courses and a student-specific reading remediation program. For more information, visit www.chavezschools.org.

DC Prep Edgewood Elementary Campus provides a developmentally appropriate, academically challenging education for 3-year-olds through 3rd grade. The key ingredients of high-quality early childhood programs have been incorporated into DC Prep's proven model, creating a coherent and exciting learning environment that lays the foundation for college preparation and success from the earliest years. The school follows a mission of bridging the educational divide in Washington, DC by increasing the number of students from urban communities with the academic preparation and personal character to succeed in competitive middle schools, high schools and colleges.

The school boasts a strong instructional leadership team that aligns teacher professional development to school goals and student needs. Student data collection and analysis is integral to the school’s academic success, and the leadership team utilizes a variety of data types to differentiate instruction for its students, including student academic progress on assessments, character development, discipline record, attendance and punctuality.

DC Prep Edgewood Elementary 3rd grade students consistently surpass the state average in both reading and math on the DC Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS). Further, in the past three years, the school has shown tremendous academic gains on the DC CAS, despite the decrease district-wide in 3rd grade scores. The strength of its tests scores and work toward closing the achievement gap between student groups resulted in the school being honored as a 2011 National Title I Distinguished School by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. It was one of only two schools in Washington, DC to receive the honor. For more information, visit www.dcprep.org.

With a mission developed by staff, students and parents that is reviewed each year, Powell Elementary School states that every Powell scholar – regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or home language – will reach high levels of academic achievement in its bilingual early learning campus, which prepares students with self-regulation and skills ultimately needed for college readiness. Powell promises to provide every student with an outstanding education, every family with a welcoming and respectful environment, every teacher with a fulfilling and professional place to work, and every community member with a school in which they can take pride.

In the past three years, Powell has simultaneously seen increases in its low-income student population as well as its ELL population. In fact, in school year 2010-2011, 66% of Powell’s students were English Language Learners. At the same time, however, Powell has also seen increased enrollment, increased average daily attendance, and increased academic achievement in both math and reading. In fact, Powell’s assessment data indicates that the school is able to move students scoring below basic levels toward proficiency at a quicker rate than other DC schools.

Every Powell student has a portfolio, which provides work samples and demonstrates the student’s academic progress. The portfolios are presented once every nine weeks to a panel of peers, school staff, and family and community members. All staff members, from custodians to the principal, serve as panelists. This is one example of how the school is engaging families and the community while raising student academic achievement. In fact, Powell families are integral to student achievement. Achievement goals are set and reviewed with families regularly through goal setting and data review events. Parents were also involved in the development of the Comprehensive School Plan, against which school progress is monitored. For more information, visit www.dcps.dc.gov/DCPS/powell.

About the 2011 Quality Schools Initiative Award Winners

Champion of Quality: Preparing their students to succeed in college and to actively engage in our democratic society, Thurgood Marshall Academy serves 390 students in grades 9 to 12. Thurgood Marshall Academy was founded upon the belief—articulated by US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall—that all children have the right to a first-class education and the opportunity to reach their full potential. As the District's first law-themed public charter high school, Thurgood Marshall Academy combines a comprehensive, standards-based curriculum with education about law, democracy, and human rights. Thurgood Marshall Academy's goal is to help students develop their own voices by teaching them the skills lawyers have—the ability to solve complex problems, think critically, and advocate persuasively for themselves and their communities. For more information, visit www.thurgoodmarshallacademy.org.

Champion of Quality: DC Preparatory Academy - Edgewood Middle Campus is an award-winning, extended middle school serving 250 students in the 4th to 8th grades. With its dual focus on rigorous academics and character development DC Prep is ensuring that its graduates have the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for success in competitive high schools and college. On the 2010 DC-CAS, DC Prep’s 8th graders achieved the highest academic proficiency levels in Washington. And its low-income students in all grade levels (80% of the student body), earned the #1 spot citywide in Reading and the #2 in Math. For more information, visit www.dcprep.org.

Rising Star: Cleveland Elementary is a DCPS school located in the historic Shaw neighborhood currently serving 296 students in pre-school through 5th grades. Cleveland approaches the learning of each child through his/her area of strength, ensuring success, high self-esteem, and continued motivation for learning. Two years ago, the school collaborated with Achievement Network to enhance its use of data-driven instruction. Cleveland is among the few public schools in Washington to receive a rating of 9 out of 10 from GreatSchools. For more information, visit www.clevelandelementary.org.

Rising Star: The Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School is located in the Brookland neighborhood in Ward 5 and serves 350 pre-school through sixth grade students. Stokes teaches children to think, speak, read, write and learn in two languages: English and French or English and Spanish. With a dual focus on excellence and community service, E.W. Stokes accomplishes its mission by creating an environment of achievement, respect and non-violence. E.W. Stokes also received a rating of 9 out 10 from GreatSchools. For more information, visit www.ewstokes.org.

To learn more about schools from 2008, 2009, and 2010, click here.

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Fight For Children is an independent non-profit organization that serves low-income kids by promoting quality education and keeping kids healthy. We also produce Fight Night.