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State of D.C. Schools, 2019-20

State of D.C. Schools is an annual systemwide overview of education in the District of Columbia. The report’s main purpose is to give D.C. residents, parents, caregivers, policymakers, and other stakeholders a snapshot of the overall performance of the District’s public schools.

As the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered public education in D.C., this year’s State of D.C. Schools report examines how students, families, and schools navigated distance learning. The focus of the report is school year 2019-20, but some of our findings also reflect the experiences of the current school year.

At-risk priority in D.C.’s common lottery

In this report, the D.C. Policy Center simulates four scenarios to analyze how different levels of a priority for at-risk students would affect lottery results and shift student demographics in schools with low percentages of at-risk students and high waitlists. Our analyses show that at-risk priority could increase match rates from 4 percent to as high as 71 percent, depending on the ranking of preference, and the composition of the incoming class could shift from 11 percent at-risk to as high as 100 percent.

Transition to College or Career for the District’s High School Students

This report explores outcomes for D.C.’s students at the close of high school and as they become young adults transitioning into postsecondary or entering jobs. Current metrics show that the majority of D.C. public high school students enter college or careers without the adequate skills and credentials for success. Most of these students will directly enter the workforce after high school, with only 14 students out of every 100 expected to complete a postsecondary degree within six years of high school graduation. In a labor market that provides limited jobs for lower-skilled workers, many D.C. students are thus excluded from their city’s economic opportunities, widening current gaps in income and quality of life. With school years cut short, classes forced to go online, and job loss disproportionately affecting those with lower levels of educational attainment, the public health and economic crisis of COVID-19 will make this year’s transition to college or career more challenging for the District’s public school students.