Clarifying Charter School Admission Policies

(By Julie Zhu)
  Enlarge Photo    
By Jay Mathews
Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dear Extra Credit:

I am a concerned D.C. public schools elementary teacher trying to help parents place graduating fifth-graders at good public schools. I am disturbed by the application process for Maya Angelou Public Charter School, as described on its Web site. Children must submit recommendation forms, go through multiple interviews, take placement tests and (for high school) answer math problems on the application before parents find out the "admission decision."

I am familiar with D.C. Public Charter School Board rules saying that admissions cannot be selective. Most D.C. public charter schools follow these rules. Even very successful schools such as KIPP and D.C. Prep don't require recommendations and interviews.

Please clarify for me what rules govern charter school admissions. If charter school critics can rightfully claim that charter schools "pick and choose" their students, any academic gains charter schools make will be subject to scrutiny. It is in the D.C. Public Charter School Board's best interests that the admissions processes for these schools be transparent.

Heather Migdon


This is an excellent question about a process that often confuses people, including me. Interviews are very common among the most successful charter schools, because the schools place great importance on establishing personal relationships with students' families and want to make sure that parents understand the school's methods and goals. All the KIPP schools in the District, for instance, require an interview, although after rather than before acceptance.

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company