All children can be lifted up
to reach their full potential with


Featured Findings

DC public schools enrollment is rising again.

  • The 94,412 students enrolled in the 2019-20 school year are split almost evenly between charter schools (46%) and DC Public Schools (54%). While both public school sectors’ enrollment grew over the past five years, charters (+15%) grew faster than traditional public schools (+7%).
  • Almost three quarters of charter school students (73%) and two-thirds of DCPS students (60%) are Black, 17% and 20% are Latinx, and only 6% and 15% are white.
  • While public pre-K enrollment increased in all sectors from 2013 to 2018, charters (+18%) and community-based organizations (+67%) grew much faster than public schools (+4%).

DC Public School Sectors Enrollment by Race



Percent of Students Enrolled by Sector (SY 2018-19)

Race & Equity

Pre-K Public Enrollment (FY2018)







Educational Outcomes

DC has improved its educational outcomes over the past few years but still has massive gaps.

  • DC is getting more students to proficiency in Language Arts and Math than a few years ago, but is still not doing so for most of its Black and Latinx students. White students are achieving third grade proficiency at a rate of 2 to 3 times their Black and Latinx peers.
  • Other groups also continue to be underserved. In math the District gets just 9% of students with disabilities, 10% of children in foster care, 16% of children and youth experiencing homelessness, and 23% of English learners to proficiency on PARCC/MSAA assessments.
  • These racial gaps continue as students progress. Only 19% of Black and 41% of Latinx students who took at least one AP or IB exam during high school passed at least one of those tests, while 83% of white students did.

DC Third Grade Language Arts Proficiency

Impacts of COVID-19

While there’s been some progress since the spring semester, many students of color, including almost one out of five Black households, still don’t reliably have a device and internet connection for educational purposes, limiting their opportunities.

Read More
Graduation Rates

DC has improved overall graduation rates, yet the gaps are widening for many groups.

  • While 93% of white DC students graduate high school in four years, only 68% of Black students and 60% of Latinx students do the same
  • Even for students who graduate, disparities persist in terms of who enrolls in a postsecondary program. While 83% of white graduates from the class of 2017 did so, the same was true for only 57% of Black graduates and 53% of Latinx graduates.
  • Not all graduates have had the chance to take college preparatory coursework. While almost all (95%) of white seniors took an AP or IB exam at some point during high school, the same was true for only about half (54%) of Black seniors and three-quarters (73%) of Latinx seniors.

DC High School Graduation Rates

Race & Equity

Post-Secondary Enrollment Rates (Class of 2017)







School Policing

DC continues to invest more in school policing than in school counselors.

  • When it comes to school counselors, who can be instrumental in students’ thinking about postsecondary education, the ratio is over 400 students per DCPS counselor after subtracting vacant positions (data isn’t available for charters). Every ward exceeds the ratio of 250 students recommended by American School Counselors.
  • The highest ratio is found in ward 8, where 10 school counselors are responsible for almost 8,600 DCPS students, and none of those counselors are in elementary schools.
  • There are almost 3 times as many police officers and security guards as school counselors in DCPS schools. Students in ward 5 are policed over twice as heavily as students in ward 3, with heavy police presence in wards 7 and 8 as well.
  • Disparities exist in school discipline by educators as well. While Black students make up 66% of the charter and traditional public school student population, they receive 82% of in-school suspensions, 90% of out-of-school suspensions, and 95% of expulsions.

DCPS Student to Counselor Ratio by Ward

Early Care & Education

The benefits of a high-quality early childhood education last a lifetime. Yet today, geography, race, and income often limit the opportunities of our youngest DC residents. There are 2.4 infants and toddlers for each licensed early learning slot (11,257).

Learn More
Out-of-School Time

The needs for out-of-school time programs far exceeded the availability, even before the pandemic.

  • According to the Afterschool Alliance, for every DC student in afterschool programs, one more would participate if a program were available.
  • 24% of children in low-income households don’t participate in any organized afterschool or weekend activity, compared to just 2% of children in higher income households.

Unmet Demand for Afterschool in the District of Columbia

Real Stories

Just as schools in DC and across the country have struggled with attendance since virtual learning began, Higher Achievement is currently serving about 50% of the scholars who were enrolled in our afterschool academic enrichment and mentoring program last school year.

Advocacy Tools
Stay Informed
Make a Difference
Find more information about all the education measures in our data references section