City Cast

What to Watch As DC Heads Back to School

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on August 28
D.C. public school bus.

D.C. public school bus. (Ctac/Wikimedia Commons)

It’s the first day back at school for D.C. kids! But it’s not all name games and first day outfits.

In addition to new curriculums and even an entire new school, D.C. Public Schools are working through a lot of changes. Here are a few things we’ll be keeping an eye on as the District heads back to school this week.

School Safety


Teachers and parents are worried as crime across the city has been on the rise. All middle schools and high schools are implementing security checks upon entering the schools and will have contract security guards. Mayor Bowser is also redoubling her efforts to keep police in schools, which has been met with mixed reactions.

Artificial Intelligence:

AI tools like ChatGPT are changing the equation for classroom performance and grading. D.C. and other regional school systems are crafting new tech policies to both benefit from it while keeping student data safe and discourage its use on assignments.

Test Scores:

Students’ scores in both English and math have improved (marginally) from last year, but they’re still significantly lower than pre-pandemic results. What’s worse, officials credit the small gains they’ve made to city-provided tutoring and mental health support. However, these programs are funded by COVID money, which expires in September of 2024, leaving schools to search for other support funds.

Teacher Shortages:

The Washington Post reported at least 2,300 vacancies in the region’s seven major systems. Many teachers are retiring early or looking for jobs with better work-life balance, citing lack of pay, stress, and students behavioral issues as reasons why.

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