Unprecedented Times, Unprecedented Authorizing: DC public charter high schools expand course offerings for SY 2020-21
Students engage with current events in real-time
In line with the diversity of mission statements and program goals among the sector, many DC public charter schools adapt course offerings to connect course content to real-world issues each year. New courses this fall such as Protest for America (Friendship PCS) and Movement for Black Lives (E.L. Haynes PCS) aims to provide students with an opportunity to engage with critical topics around social justice, and classes such as Pop Culture of the Cold War (Capital City PCS) and History of the Holocaust (Friendship PCS) offer students with a more in-depth look at historical events and times.
Schools maintain rigorous offerings during distance learning
Course offerings for SY 2020-21 indicate that DC public charter schools continue to move forward with offering students rigorous, college-level courses. Of the traditional high schools in the sector, all but one offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses (with that one school on track to offer AP courses starting in SY 2021-22). Additionally, in its second year serving all high school grades, District of Columbia International School continues to bolster its International Baccalaureate (IB) program, offering high-level courses in history, biology, literature, and mathematics.
Access and achievement in college-level courses remain an important part of reports citywide; both DC PCSB’s School Quality Report and OSSE’s DC School Report Card rely on AP and IB course participation and performance in evaluating public charter high schools.
More schools offering credits based on competencies
In an effort to provide more credit flexibility to support both virtual and alternative programming, DC PCSB is authorized to grant competency-based waivers to public charter high schools. This fall, Friendship PCS and Kingsman Academy PCS joined Goodwill Excel Center PCS in offering students the opportunity to earn course credit based on mastery of content rather than requiring a set amount of time spent in the classroom.
Accordingly, Kingsman Academy PCS’ offerings this fall are designed around the school’s goal of providing over-age and under-credited students with a personalized competency-based framework, with each course aligned with measurement topics and accompanying proficiency scales. As for Friendship PCS, the school is expanding its online course options in a virtual environment through a partnership with EdOptions, scaling its core course offerings through competency-based credits.
New all-girls high school offers pathways in engineering and business
DC’s newly opened all-girls high school, Girls Global Academy PCS, offers 9th-grade students a set of courses foundational to its International Baccalaureate program. These courses are integrated into two career pathways, Engineering and Business, where students will have the opportunity to take classes in engineering design and wealth management this year on the respective tracks.
According to the school’s website:
“[Girls Global Academy PCS] chose two career paths, Engineering and Business, because they are in high demand for workers, are broadly applicable across several job sectors, and do not currently have high numbers of women of color.”
To read more on this school’s curriculum and approach, visit https://girlsglobalacademy.org/our-programs/curriculum/.
To learn more about secondary courses offered at DC public charter schools, we encourage you to contact the individual schools. You can also preview courses offered across the sector here: