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Chancellor Wilson’s Priorities: Student Achievement Gap and Literacy Rates

DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Antwan Wilson says DCPS has made steady and significant progress in state test scores, graduation rates and Advanced Placement, and he pledged to address the school district’s persistent achievement gap and lagging literacy rate in his new five-year strategic plan.

“Student achievement has increased across the entire district for all students,” said Wilson at a trustee breakfast in October, “yet the increase has been much faster for certain groups of kids. In the strategic plan, we wanted to think through how we get to 100 percent for all kids. All of our kids, meaning how do we allow students who are showing great progress continue to grow and what are some of the things we need to do to accelerate progress for the kids who are growing the least? And that’s what we focused on.” 

The plan, A Capital Commitment 2017-2022, which builds off the successes of the past five years, was developed with input from more than 4,500 students, parents, educators and community members representing every ward and every school.

At the breakfast, Wilson touched on the plan’s vision, mission and values, which were based on public feedback and the idea that schools “need to deliver, not just offer”, he said. He shared the plan’s five priorities, which are its five-year areas of focus. He noted that the first of these priorities, to promote equity, addresses the concern he heard expressed in all eight wards.

Of the plan’s six goals, to be achieved by 2022, the chancellor emphasized two: to double the percentage of students who are college and career ready, measured through the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, Advanced Placement coursework and dual enrollment, and to accelerate early literacy so that 100 percent of K-2 students are reading at or above grade level. 

“I really felt passionate about the early literacy work,” Wilson said. “We have kids for three years between Kindergarten and third grade and we need to make sure they can read. It’s our responsibility to put the resources there. Because if they leave second grade reading, then grades 3 through the rest of their lives is about reading and learning. And then we have a shot.”