Fight for Children awards recognize data-driven D.C. schools

Last week my coworker Aparna and I had the privilege of attending Fight for Children’s Champion of Quality awards luncheon. Fight for Children awards grants to a high school, a middle school and an elementary school each year in DC that displays high levels of quality and programs that improve student achievement. Rather than spur competition, the organization's overall goal is to help recognize and spread best practices in education so that they can benefit all children.

Specifically, the use of data-driven instruction is what truly sets these schools apart. What this new education buzzword means is that over time, teachers and school leaders collect test scores, plot data and evaluate the best practices of teaching. They then implement these practices into their curriculum to produce higher student achievement, and share their strategies with other schools to improve the overall quality of education for children.

The recipients of this year’s awards were most definitely deserving. Each uses data-driven instruction to benefit their students and prepare them not only for future education, but also for life:

Thurgood Marshall Academy (high school winner) is DC’s first law-themed public charter school that combines a comprehensive, standards-based curriculum with education about law, democracy and human rights. Impressively, their first five graduating classes had a 100% college acceptance rate. 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.

DC Prep’s Edgewood Middle Campus (middle school winner) implements a “twin focus,” concentrating on rigorous academics and character development. It is ranked 9 out of 10 by parents on DC Prep's 2010 DC CAS scores placed them among the top three schools in DC in reading and the top four in math. When looking at low-income students, DC Prep earns the No. 1 spot in reading and the No. 2 in math.

Cleveland Elementary (tied for first in elementary school winner) is also one of the few public schools in DC to receive a 9 out of 10 on Half their classes in each grade level participate in their dual language program, where they take half of their classes in English and half in Spanish.

E.W. Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School (tied for first in elementary school winner) is a charter school that also implements a dual language program, teaching children to speak, read, write and think in either English and Spanish, or English and French. 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.

Congratulations to this year’s winners! We look forward to learning more about the best practices you have developed and implemented!