The Fishing School

The Fishing School

Staying on Target

The Fishing School targets all 1st through 5th grade students enrolled in Title 1 eligible elementary schools throughout D.C., but has strategically partnered with schools in Wards 7 and 8 to help ensure that students in DC’s most underserved communities have equal access to high quality education. Research indicates that low socio-economic status, poverty, race, and low educational attainment are closely linked.

Families in Wards 7 and 8 have the lowest median income of $31,142, and $26,269 respectively, well below DC’s median income of $63,587 (2014). In contrast, unemployment rates in Wards 7 and 8 are distressingly high: 11.9% and 14.6% respectively, compared to 4.5% in Ward 3 in 2015. Similarly, Wards 7 and 8 also have the highest child poverty rates: 38% in Ward 7 and 50% in Ward 8, exceeding the city-wide rate of 28% (2010-14). Additionally, these two wards have the highest percentage of families headed by a single mother in the city—71% in Ward 7 and 72% in Ward 8, compared to 43% citywide.

In the Fishing School’s target communities, many parents are not equipped to provide the support, resources, and positive learning environments to assist their children. As general indicators, 38% of our families do not have access to the internet in their homes, 99% qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 77% of TFS families are headed by single females. Additional barriers to parent engagement include un- and underemployment, unstable housing, lack of transportation, and poor community/school relationships also adversely impact family and student outcomes.

The disparity in low-income students’ academic achievement is demonstrated by several factors. DCPS schools, particularly those in Wards 7 and 8 continue to face challenges closing the achievement gap and reducing the number of students with non-proficient scores on standardized test. According to the DCPS School Profiles, 50% of elementary schools in Ward 7 and nearly 70% of elementary schools in Ward 8 have an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) classification of “Priority” or “Focus.” As stated by the ESEA school classification criteria, priority and focus schools demonstrate a need for, “Targeted support to address large achievement gaps between specific groups of students.” The 2016 PARCC scores substantiate this finding as nearly 84% of Ward 7 and 87% of Ward 8 public and public charter school students in grades 3-12, failed to meet English Language Arts/literacy expectations. Similarly, over 80% of Ward 7 and 87% of Ward 8 students in grades 3-12 failed to meet expectations in Math.

The stark disparities in test scores by geography, race, and income evidence the compelling need for strong and proven academic interventions in the predominantly African-American and economically-disadvantaged communities that TFS serves. Yet, due to budget and staffing constraints, the number of slots allocated for afterschool enrollment at DCPS schools continue to shrink. This reduction negatively impacts students and families, as students who are unable to enroll in afterschool lose valuable opportunities to gain academic support and working parents struggle to find inexpensive, high quality afterschool programming.

For more information about The Fishing School and to get involved, please visit www.fishingschool.org, or call (202) 399-3618.

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