Capital City Public Charter School enables a diverse group of students to meet high expectations, develop creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, achieve a deep understanding of complex subjects, acquire a love of learning, along with a strong sense of community and character. We will graduate young adults who are self-directed, intellectually engaged and possess a commitment to personal and civic responsibility.

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Capital City celebrated an important milestone in 2015—15 years of serving students in Washington DC.  We underwent the charter renewal process and successfully renewed our charter for another 15 years.  This important milestone, the charter renewal process, and the process of creating this credentialing portfolio provided tremendous opportunity for reflection.  There is much to celebrate and much to look forward to.  We are proud of our role as an innovator and model for school reform and proud of the relationships we have built with students and families over the years.  We are excited to continue this journey.

Throughout our 15 years, we have been true to the mission and the principles on which our school was founded. The renewal report prepared by the DC Public Charter School Board stated, “Over the course of its charter, Capital City PCS has adhered to the educational philosophy described in its charter and established a strong culture for learning.“ When Capital City began in 2000, we served a much smaller population (132 students compared to 975 students today), and we served a smaller grade span (PK4 to 5th grade compared to PK3 to 12th grade today), but the principles and practices identified in our original charter and implemented in our early years are still vibrant today and can be seen across the grades we serve. These practices; including learning expeditions, structures to build strong character, strong literacy across the curriculum, and portfolios and an emphasis on high quality work; have their roots in the core practices of Expeditionary Learning and will be showcased in this credentialing portfolio.

Learn more about our demographics and history on our school website.

Core Beliefs

Our core beliefs about education have anchored our program since the very beginning.  These guiding principles thread through our program PK3-12.

We believe that learning should….

  • Be Compelling. 
    It is essential that students care about the work that they are doing and see their work as meaningful. At Capital City learning is made compelling through learning expeditions and projects that delve deeply into topics of importance. Expedition and projects involve students in research, fieldwork, learning from experts, and presenting their work to others.
  • Educate the whole child.
    We believe at Capital City that strong instruction in core academics are not enough. We have strong arts education and fitness/wellness programs. These programs support our teaching of deeper learning skills and work to develop strong, confident, independent learners.
  • Be equitable and tailored to the needs of individual students.
    We recognize that every student does not need the same instruction and supports. We tailor our program so that each student gets what he/she needs to succeed at a high level. We continually evaluate our program through an equity lens and equip our staff with the skills they need to be culturally competent teachers and leaders.
  • Engage families.
    Families are our most important partners in the work that we do. We strive to engage families in our academic program and in understanding their children as learners. We strive for parent participation that is reflective of the diversity of our student body.
  • Prepare students for success in college and careers.
    We take seriously our responsibility to build the habits and skills that students will need to be successful in college and careers.  To this end, our program emphasizes “deeper learning skills” including problem-solving, critical thinking, written and oral communication, research, and collaboration.   This is in contrast to many schools these days that focus solely on the skills that prepare students for a test.
  • Grow strong citizens of the world.
    At Capital City we want to grow young people who will be empowered to change the world and make it a better place. We emphasize a strong social curriculum focused on helping students understand the important role they play in a community, and have a social justice curriculum developed through learning expeditions.

Partnership with EL

Capital City was founded as an EL school and the core practices of Expeditionary Learning are in the DNA of Capital City. We have grown with EL over the years. In tandem, we have deepened our instructional practices and doubled down on our commitment to serve all students well.

Capital City has been a mentor school for Expeditionary Learning since this program was officially launched in 2011 and even before that Capital City was considered a model. As a Mentor School, Capital City opens its doors to those interested in the EL model and works to disseminate best practices. Some recent ways that Capital City has contributed as a mentor school include:

  • Hosting hundreds of visitors annually interested in the EL model.
  • Hosting a site visit concurrent with the EL Conference in 2013.
  • Hosting the EL Symposium in 2013 featuring a panel with Paul Tough and Capital City students.
  • Participating in the EL March to the Mailbox tradition and welcoming special guest First Lady Michelle Obama for the 2014 March.
  • Capital City teachers and administrators presenting at every EL National Conferences in recent years.
  • Sharing student work, expedition plans, and resources on EL Commons.
  • Working with a photographer in 2014 to document EL in action for EL website.
  • Committing to hosting a Leadership Site Seminar in March 2016.
  • Supporting EL with the creation of Toolkits.  The video below features the class of Capital City tenth grade teacher, Monet Cooper.  Capital City hosted filming for an Arts video in Spring 2015.

Our EL Implementation Reviews show our fidelity to the model and our focus on continuous improvement.  In the past four years, our IR score has improved each year.  Below is our most recent school-wide Implementation Review.

Capital City from our Students:

Our students are the best ambassadors of Capital City. Students regularly lead tours, share their work, and participate on panels to show what is special and unique about Capital City. In 2014, our fourth graders developed the video shown at the top of our page to share about our school.