Dear PoPville – What are the Good Charter Schools?


A reader writes in wondering specifically about Bridges Public Charter School but I figure I’ll throw the general question out there too – for those who have kids in ’em or have done some research – which charter schools are most impressive? Anyone know about Bridges? What are considered the top five-ten schools?

24 Comment

  • Very subjective. What’s important to you… Immersion? Montessori? Location?
    Generally these are the most sought after schools in NW/NE. I’m less educated on Capitol Hill due to location…
    In no order:
    Two Rivers
    Mundo Verde
    Creative Minds
    Yu Ying
    Inspired Teaching
    There are some missing I’m sure, but these were the highest on my radar. Again, very subjective.

  • I only know about the language charters, since that was a priority for us. Getting into a DCI (DC International Middle and High School) feeder elementary is best, because then you’re set. (Assuming DCI works out… first class starts this month.) So that’s Yu Ying, DC Bilingual, Stokes, LAMB, and… I’m forgetting one. Mundo Verde?

    But really, there are so many. There’s an all-girls charter in SE. There’s one that focuses on the environment. Language is the biggest differentiator, but not the only one. What’s important to you?

    • “Getting into a DCI (DC International Middle and High School) feeder elementary is best, because then you’re set. (Assuming DCI works out… first class starts this month.) ”
      This is what cracks me up about all of this charter talk: NOBODY KNOWS. The most established charters are all of 10 years old! Some of the ones that people are tripping over themselves trying to getting in only have 2-3 years under their belt (IT, MV, CM, etc.). Some of them may end up being historically good (great even!), but we simply don’t know. That’s the saddest thing about school “choice” in DC: if you aren’t rich or in bounds for a good DCPS (which, c’mon, means you are rich by at least a loose definition of the term) you are struggling to find an even acceptable place for your kids. I think this is where all of the breathless hype for these new charters comes in, people talking themselves into believing they have an awesome place to send their kids (“Better than any DCPS. Better than the privates even!”). Let’s give it some time and see which ones can really walk the walk. I bet the shine will come off of most of them in short order. Signed, somebody who has been through this game before.

  • you can look at the DC Public Charter School Board website, where they organize the schools into tiers. They also have a lot more description of each school. I agree with previous posters that certain curricula might appeal more to one family than another–and the commute to school is also worth considering. So are DCPS schools–you can apply to those that are out of boundary (and the current policy is that for 3 and 4 year olds, in-boundary gives you priority but you still need to enter the lottery even for your in-bounds school).

    There is a DC education fair each year and I think this year’s will be in November. That’s a good way to hear from lots of schools at once and find out when they’re having open houses.

  • Why are you limiting your search to charters? The top 5-10 schools in the city are all DCPS schools, at least according to test score results. Here’s the list of all schools with an overall index score or 80 or higher:

    DCPS Benjamin Banneker HS 101.93
    DCPS School Without Walls HS 101.43
    DCPS Mann ES 94.75
    DCPS Janney ES 94.55
    DCPS Ross ES 93
    DCPS Lafayette ES 92.92
    DCPS Key ES 92.05
    DCPS Stoddert ES 91.94
    DCPS Deal MS 91.89
    DCPS McKinley Technology HS 90.74
    DCPS Eaton ES 90.23
    DCPS Mamie D Lee School 89.76
    PCS D C Preparatory Edgewood Middle Campus PCS 89.62
    DCPS Murch ES 89.14
    PCS Basis DC PCS 87.94
    PCS KIPP DC KEY Academy PCS 83.88
    DCPS Oyster Adams Bilingual School (Oyster) 83.74
    PCS KIPP DC College Prep PCS 82.96
    PCS D C Preparatory Benning Middle Campus 82.52
    PCS Washington Latin PCS MS 82.47
    DCPS Sharpe Health School 82.14
    DCPS Ludlow Taylor ES 81.83

    • Why limit to charters? Because one has to live in-boundaries for DCPS. You have almost zero chance of getting into Mann or Janney (or the others on that list) if you apply for out-of-boundaries admission. Most PoP readers are east of the park. None of the good DCPS elementaries are.

      • Exactly. Anyone asking about charters lives EOTP, I can promise you that.

      • and I believe all the DCPS high schools on that list are application-only schools. In no way representative of non-application DCPS high schools.

      • gotryit

        “Most PoP readers are east of the park. None of the good DCPS elementaries are.”
        I think you haven’t been in any of the DCPS elementary schools in Petworth or the surrounding areas in a while, if ever.
        Your statement isn’t just misleading, it’s kind of offensive.

      • That’s not true. Ross in Dupont has better test scores than any charter in the city. There’s several good DCPS elementary schools in Capitol Hill, and several other east of the park schools have seen massive improvement, including Barnard in Petworth, Shepherd in Takoma, Seaton and Cleveland in Shaw, and Marie Reed in Adams Morgan.
        My point is that lots of people assume DCPS is always worse than charter, and that’s often not the case. There are quite a few DCPS elementary schools east of the park that do a fine job of educating kids.

        • +1 Just because the scores aren’t as high in one school doesn’t mean your well supported child won’t get a good education.
          There are quite a few “Rising” elementary schools around Petworth / 16th street heights.

  • I Think AA and jcm have nailed it, but forgot EL Haynes. but go to DC Urban Moms website for the skinny. Also you can find info on the charter schools’ test scores on the DC Public Charter School Board website. There is no substitute for visiting in person. Also you have to take commute into consideration – some schools just don’t work logistically for some families.

  • DC Prep in Edgewood. Amazing principal. Amazing staff. I agree with Two Rivers, Haynes, KIPP and some of the others but DC Prep should be mentioned up there as well.

  • My only experience is with Appletree in Columbia Heights where my daughter attended pre-K3 and pre-K4. I have nothing but good things to say about Appletree.
    Off to Mundo Verde next year, hoping for good things!

    • We also have had a wonderful experience at Apple Tree -Columbia Heights. Great teachers and community!

  • Despite my name, I don’t know elementary schools. A friend sent her daughter to Bridges and was dissatisfied. As a fellow teacher, she said that she wanted to avoid being “that parent,” but after numerous unresolved problems decided to move her daughter to a different school. (I don’t know where they ended up.) YMMV, of course.

    • Bridges also was very unethical in handling a spacial agreement with another charter school when they stepped in and usurped the space that the other school was planning to use for the 2014-15 school year, after Bridges stated they would not be using it.

      • FWIW, I’ve heard that Shining Stars (the other school in the “spacial agreement” above) failed to meet a deadline in returning documents/checks/whatever to the landlord involved, and then he went and offered the space to Bridges. Bridges probably wasn’t looking for space until fairly recently, when DC told them they were not going to award the Sharpe building this year.

        (I obviously can’t say for sure what happened, but I don’t think it’s so cut-and-dried as the poster above claimed, unless they have secret insider knowledge at both schools. I’ve had friends who have had their kids -with and without special needs- at Bridges and been extremely happy.)

  • We’ve been at LAMB for three years and love it. The community is wonderful, parents are engaged, and the staff is focused on the right things. We feel really lucky.

  • We’ve been at CCPCS for the last 2 years and have been extremely happy with it

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