Policy Center in your inbox

Education Policy Initiative

The D.C. Policy Center created the Education Policy Initiative in October of 2017 to focus on the intersection of education and demographics in D.C. Over two years, the Education Policy Initiative will produce a series of studies to understand how the District’s schools can attract, keep, and retain families of all types.


D.C.’s public schools are changing for the better. After years of declining enrollment, public schools have grown by 11,000 pre-kindergarten to grade 12 students over the last five years. Over the same period, test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have improved steadily. However, some students and families are not satisfied with D.C.’s public school options. The city struggles to retain middle-income families and those with older children, and some schools are overcrowded while others are under-enrolled.

Schools have been an important catalyst for urban development and a significant means of inter-jurisdictional competition for residents in the metropolitan area. However, the District’s educational landscape is complex. About half of public school students are enrolled in charter schools, and just 25 percent attend their in-boundary public school. Rapidly changing demographics are reshaping neighborhoods and their schools. What will it take to retain families in D.C. and students in D.C.’s public schools?


In its Changing Schools in a Growing City paper series, the Education Policy Initiative will produce key data and analysis that the District’s policymakers can use in developing sound education policies and plans for public schools. Initial research areas include:

The D.C. Policy Center Education Policy Initiative will inform education policymaking through policy papers, blog posts, and regular meetings with key stakeholders. We are excited to be a part of the important conversation on education policy in the District of Columbia, and we look forward to collaborating with the District Government agencies, the members of the Council, students and their families, education providers, and education researchers.

Recent publications

D.C needs research for school improvement and audit for oversight, but not from the same source

D.C needs research for school improvement and audit for oversight, but not from the same source

The D.C. Council is considering an education research collaborative that would carry out priority research on education in D.C. However, its current approach has one major flaw: the Council plans to place this entity under the Office of the D.C. Auditor, …

Schools in the Neighborhood: Full Report

Schools in the Neighborhood: Full Report

The most important indicator of high boundary participation rates at the elementary school level is access to a predictable elementary-to-high school feeder pattern. Specifically, location within the feeder pattern for Wilson High School, the District’s t…

Contact us

To receive updates from the D.C. Policy Center’s Education Policy Initiative, please subscribe below. For any questions or for more information, please contact Chelsea Coffin, Director of the Education Policy Initiative, at chelsea@dcpolicycenter.org.


Our research is guided by a group of education researchers with deep knowledge of D.C.’s public schools and public school choice.


The Education Policy Initiative is supported by generous grants from Walton Family Foundation and Education Forward DC.