Public education in the District of Columbia
|K-12 Education in Washington, D.C.|
|State Superintendent: Jesus Aguirre|
|Number of students: 73,911|
|Number of teachers: 6,278|
|Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:11.8|
|Number of school districts: 56|
|Number of schools: 228|
|Graduation rate: 59%|
|Per-pupil spending: $18,475|
|District of Columbia Public Schools, D.C. • List of school districts in Washington, D.C. • Washington, D.C. • School boards portal|
|Education policy project|
|Public education in the United States |
Public education in Washington, D.C.
Glossary of education terms
|Note: The statistics on this page are mainly from government sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics. Figures given are the most recent as of June 2014, with school years noted in the text or footnotes.|
- 1 State agencies
- 2 Regional comparison
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Academic performance
- 5 Educational choice options
- 6 Education funding and expenditures
- 7 Organizations
- 8 Studies and reports
- 9 Recent news
- 10 See also
- 11 External links
- 12 References
The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is tasked with the goal of raising the quality of education for all Washington, D.C. residents. To accomplish this goal, the OSSE sets district-wide policies, provides resources and support and is accountable for all public education in the district.
The mission statement of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education reads:
|“||The mission of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is to remove barriers and create pathways for District residents to receive a great education and prepare them for success in college, careers, and life.||”|
The Washington, D.C. State Board of Education has nine elected members, one for each ward of the district and one at-large member.
- See also: General comparison table for education statistics in the 50 states and Education spending per pupil in all 50 states
The following chart shows how Washington, D.C. compares to the United States with respect to number of students, schools, the number of teachers per pupil, and the number of administrators per pupil. Further comparisons to the U.S. total or the national average with respect to performance and financial information are given in other sections of this page.
|State||Schools||Districts||Students||Teachers||Teacher/pupil ratio||Administrator/pupil ratio||Per pupil spending|
| Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.|
National Center for Education Statistics, Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12
The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in Washington D.C. as reported in the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.
|Demographic Information for Washington, D.C.'s K-12 Public School System|
|Ethnicity||Students||State Percentage||United States Percentage**|
|Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl. Students||88||0.12%||0.42%|
|Two or More||843||1.14%||2.54%|
|**Note: This is the percentage of all students in the United States that are reported to be of this ethnicity.|
- See also: NAEP scores by state
The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Washington, D.C.'s scores fell below the national average in each category.
|Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013|
|Math - Grade 4||Math - Grade 8||Reading - Grade 4||Reading - Grade 8|
|NAEP assessment data for all students 2012-2013|
Graduation, ACT and SAT scores
|Comparison table for graduation rates and test scores*|
|State||Graduation rate, 2012||Average ACT Composite, 2012||Average SAT Composite, 2013|
|Percent||Quintile ranking**||Score||Participation rate||Score||Participation rate|
| *Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate (except for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, which did not report “Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” but instead used their own method of calculation).|
**Graduation rates for states in the first quintile ranked in the top 20 percent nationally. Similarly, graduation rates for states in the fifth quintile ranked in the bottom 20 percent nationally.
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express
- See also: Public high school dropout rates by state for a full comparison of dropout rates by group in all states
The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. The event dropout rate for Washington, D.C. was higher than the national average at 6.1 percent in the 2010-2011 school year, and 5.8 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.
Educational choice options
- See also: School choice in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. had the highest private school attendance in the country with over 21 percent of school age children in the district attending private schools during the 2011-2012 school year. Other school choice options in the district include charter schools, online learning, public school open enrollment and homeschooling.
Education funding and expenditures
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system revenues in Washington, D.C. totaled approximately $1.8 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including revenue sources, for Washington, D.C.
|Revenues by source, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Federal revenue||State revenue||Local revenue||Total revenue|
|Public school revenues by source, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system expenditures in Washington, D.C. totaled approximately $1.9 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including expenditure types, for Washington, D.C.
|Expenditures by type, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Current expenditures**||Capital outlay||Other***||Total expenditures|
| **Funds spent operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.|
***Includes payments to state and local governments, payments to private schools, interest on school system indebtedness, and nonelementary-secondary expenditures, such as adult education and community services expenditures.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
|Public school expenditures, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. During the same period in Washington, D.C., the average salary increased by 10.2 percent.
|Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)|
|**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."|
After being appointed Chancellor of Education by Mayor Adrian Fenty, Michelle Rhee proposed a two-track system of pay for teachers. Under one track, teachers would relinquish tenure and, following a trial period of a year, make up to $130,000 in merit pay based on their effectiveness. All teachers new to the district would enter employment on this track. The second track would allow teachers to keep tenure and accept a smaller raise. The Washington Teacher's Union opposed the plan. Union President George Parker said on PBS that, after 17 months of negotiations with Rhee and no agreement, teacher morale was the lowest it had been in his 25 years in Washington, D.C. public schools.
In 2012, the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now assessed the power and influence of state teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their rankings were based on 37 different variables in five broad areas, including: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence. Washington, D.C. ranked 33rd overall, or weak, which was in the fourth tier of five.
List of local District of Columbia school unions:
In October 2009, Chancellor of Education Michelle Rhee fired 400 school personnel, including 266 educators, in order to close a budget shortfall. Union members claimed the budget shortfall was a manufactured excuse to clear teachers out of Washington, D.C. public schools.
The union sought to compel the public school system to reinstate the 266 teachers pending arbitration of a grievance the union filed under its contract. In November 2009, the D.C. Superior Court denied the union's request for a preliminary injunction.
Studies and reports
ABCs of School Choice
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice publishes a comprehensive guide to private school choice programs across the U.S. In its 2014 edition, the Foundation reviewed Washington, D.C.'s Opportunity Scholarship Program. The program gives vouchers to low-income students to attend private schools within the district. The Foundation found that the $20 million funding for the program was not sufficient to allow all students who qualify to use the program and suggested that funding be expanded to allow more families to participate. The full Friedman Foundation report can be found here.
State Budget Solutions education study
State Budget Solutions examined national trends in education from 2009 to 2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates and average ACT scores. The study showed that the states that spent the most did not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor did they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. The full report can be accessed here.
Quality Counts 2014
- See also: Quality Counts 2014 Report
Education Week, an organization that reports on many education issues throughout the country, began using an evaluation system in 1997 to grade each state on various elements of education performance. This system, called Quality Counts, uses official data on performance from each state to generate a report card for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report card in 2014 uses six different categories:
- Chance for success
- K-12 achievement
- Standards, assessments and accountability
- The teaching profession
- School finance
- Transitions and Alignment
Each of these six categories had a number of other elements that received individual scores. Those scores were then averaged and used to determine the final score in each category. Every state received two types of scores for each of the six major categories: A numerical score out of 100 and a letter grade based on that score. Education Week used the score for the first category, "chance for success," as the value for ranking each state and the District of Columbia. The average grade received in the entire country was 77.3, or a C+ average. The country's highest average score was in the category of "standards, assessments and accountability" at 85.3, or a B average. The lowest average score was in "K-12 achievement", at 70.2, or a C- average.
Washington, D.C. received a score of 81.5, or a B- average in the "chance for success" category. This was above the national average. The state's highest score was in standards, assessments and accountability at 82.7, or a B average. The lowest score was in K-12 achievement at 59.2, or an F average. Washington, D.C. had the second lowest K-12 achievement score in the country, after Mississippi. The chart below displays the scores of Washington, D.C. and the United States.
Note: Click on a column heading to sort the data.
|Public education report cards, 2014|
|State||Chance for success||K-12 achievement||Standards, assessments and accountability||The teaching profession||School finance||Transitions and Alignment|
|Washington, D.C.||81.5 (B-)||59.2 (F)||82.7 (B)||60.9 (D-)||N/A||78.6 (C+)|
|United States Average||77.3 (C+)||70.2 (C-)||85.3 (B)||72.5 (C)||75.5 (C)||81.1 (B-)|
| Source: Education Week, "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 18, 2015|
A full discussion of how these numbers were generated can be found here.
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Washington, D.C. + Education "
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Washington, D.C. Department of Education
- Washington, D.C. school districts
- School choice in Washington, D.C.
- Charter schools in the District of Columbia
- Washington, D.C.
- Education Policy in the U.S.
- D.C. Public Charter School Board
- District of Columbia Public Schools
- D.C. Public Schools Budget and Finance
- Washington Teacher's Union
- District of Columbia Public School Ratings by PSK12
- District of Columbia Public School Ratings by Great Schools
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
- ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
- United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD); Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12," accessed May 12, 2014
- United States Department of Education, "ED Data Express," accessed May 12, 2014
- Office of the State Superintendent of Education, "About OSSE," accessed May 14, 2014
- Office of the State Superintendent of Education, "What does OSSE do?" accessed May 14, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- State Board of Education, "SBOE FAQs," accessed May 14, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
- National Center for Education Statistics, "State Profiles," accessed May 14, 2014
- United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
- ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
- Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2010–11," accessed May 13, 2014 (timed out)
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014
- New York Times, "A School Chief Takes on Tenure, Stirring a Fight," November 13, 2008
- PBS Newshour, "Media Attention Hinders Rhee's Efforts to Reach Out to D.C. Teachers," May 5, 2009
- Thomas E Fordham Institute, "How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison," October 29, 2012
- Washington Teacher's Union, "Main page," accessed May 30, 2010
- Center for Union Facts, "District of Columbia teachers unions," accessed May 30, 2010
- U.S. News and World Reports, "D.C. Schools Chief Michelle Rhee Fights Union Over Teacher Pay," December 21, 2009
- District of Columbia Public Schools, "Reduction in Force," November 24, 2009
- Washington Post, "Court defends Rhee's layoffs," November 24, 2009
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- Education Week "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 19, 2015