D.C. charter school enrollment outpaces that of DCPS

February 6, 2013

The District’s public charter schools are growing far faster than the traditional school system, according to audited enrollment figures released Wednesday by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

The audited figures confirm a trend first apparent when unaudited numbers were released in October: Charters now enroll 43 percent of the city’s public school students, up from 41 percent in 2011.

Charter schools enrolled 34,673 students in fall 2012, a 10 percent jump from fall 2011 that continues more than a decade of steady growth.

D.C. Public Schools’ enrollment, meanwhile, grew 1 percent between 2011 and 2012 to 45,557.

Total enrollment in both school sectors increased about 5 percent to more than 80,000 students — the fourth consecutive year of citywide growth.

The school system, which lost tens of thousands of students after its enrollment peak in the 1960s, has held more or less steady since 2009. But competition from charters has been a challenge for DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson, who is closing 15 schools for low enrollment.

The school closures have led to calls from activists and parents for city leaders to develop a comprehensive plan for how the two school sectors should coexist. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said Tuesday in his State of the District address that his education cabinet is in the midst of forming that plan.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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