District of Columbia Public Schools

District of Columbia Public Schools

The district is exploring blended learning through over a dozen blended learning initiatives, focused on specific content areas.

State: Washington DC Number of Students: 48,439
School Type: Public School District Free and Reduced Lunch: 76.0%
Grade Level: PK-12 English Language Learners: 11.0%

School Context

Student Achievement: DCPS has a goal of raising student achievement so that 70% of the district’s students are proficient inreading and math and twice as many students qualify as advanced.

Supporting Low-Performing Schools: Supporting the 40 lowest-performing schools in the district, which serve large populationsof high-need students, is a big priority. The district will provide a special grant called the “Proving What’s Possible” grant and willfocus on recruiting and retaining strong teachers.

Raising Graduation Rates: Raising the high school graduation rate to 75% is key to the district. It aims to do this by leveragingtechnology tools and offering support to students in various forms, including intervention systems summer programs.

Making Students Happy: DCPS believes that students’ perceptions of school are key to student success, so the district has a goalof raising student satisfaction until 90% of students say they like school.

Raising Enrollment: The district has a goal of increasing enrollment so that the district is more attractive for new families.

State of Technology

Blended Approach: DCPS is currently exploring blended learning throughover a dozen blended learning initiatives, focused on specific content areas.There are two avenues by which blended learning programs are created.Schools are either selected for redesign or choose to build blended learningfrom the bottom up through teacher-driven initiatives. DCPS aims to haveat least one high school and all subsequent feeders schools implementinga blended learning program in each of its 8 wards, so schools are selectedfor redesign based on their feeder pattern. So far 17 schools have been fullyredesigned to support blended learning using some sort of station rotationor flex model. For schools that are not designated for redesign, the districtsupports targeted blended learning through philanthropic dollars fromprograms such as Citybridge. These schools serve as test beds for innovation.

A Shift Towards Personalized Learning: In 2013, the Education InnovationFellowship Program was launched by CityBridge Foundation and NewSchoolsVenture Fund. The program gives innovative teachers an opportunity to pilottools that support personalized learning in their D.C. classrooms. Teachersparticipating in the fellowship get to visit other schools to see how toolsare being implemented to support personalized learning models in variouslearning environments. Around the same time, Next Generation LearningChallenges (NGLC) asked CityBridge to launch a regional competition called

“Breakthrough Schools: D.C.”: They used this competition to distribute upto $6 million to support the redesign or launch of schools with personalizedlearning models in the district. In 2014, CityBridge announced its first cohortof grantees, each of which received an initial planning grant of $100,000.

D.C. Devices: The district predominantly uses Dell laptops and desktopsfor its blended learning programs. For K-8 redesign schools there is a 3:1ratio of students to devices, which allows each school to support a stationrotation model. The district tries to stay away from a 1:1 ratio in grades K-8because of previous experiences with a lack of teacher involvement in theseenvironments and an over-reliance on devices. In high schools, students aresupported with a 1:1 device ratio through laptop carts.Personalized PD Menus: The district formed the “myPD team” to designa solution to redesign PD. The district identified ten pilot myPD sites inDCPS and the team began creating menus of PD resources tailored to theschool’s initiatives and student populations. Every teacher at a myPD site wasassigned to a mentor within the school. The mentor’s role was to guide theteacher through the menu and help him/her make choices about which PDactivity was the best fit. The teacher’s role was to try out an activity for a six toten week period, checking in with their mentor every two weeks. At the end ofthe six to ten week period, the teacher could opt to stay with the same activityor move on to a new one. This model is still in its early phases but DCPS plansto continue to expand it during the 2015-2016 school year.

Tech Needs & Requirements

Technology tools must integrate with Active Directory, must be web-based, must be device-agnostic and must provide data reports regularly to teachers that areactionable. Compelling digital content that enhances instructional methods for teachers of high school students.


The district is currently looking to replace its online credit recovery program. Previously it was using Apex, but it is working toreplace Apex with a more engaging solution.

The district is looking to extend the blended learning program to more schools.

Two of the district’s middle schools will be partnering with Summit Public Schools in California to use their basecamp model forpersonalized learning, which includes Summit’s Personalized Learning Tool and training from the members of the Summit staff.One school will be implementing the model in 7th and 8th grade. The other school which serves students in grades 6-12 will focuson implementing the program in 8th grade.

*Content From 2015

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