Data Spotlight Award Winner: DC Prep


DC Prep is a cohort of public charter elementary and middle schools, whose mission is to increase the number of students from underserved communities with the academic preparation and personal character to succeed in competitive high schools and colleges.


  • Every child graduates from high school


Low-income studentseven those who matriculate from high-performing middle schools—face obstacles in their efforts to complete high school, graduate from college, and fulfill their potential for successful adult lives. The transition to high school often presents a significant challenge to students and frequently determines their future course in high school and beyond. Many 9th graders struggle from a lack of time management skills or an inability to cope with the greater freedom that high school allows. According to the National High School Center, more students fail 9th grade than any other grade, and even those who are promoted to 10th grade—but are off track, as indicated by poor grades and low attendance during their 9th grade yearmay already have missed the opportunity successfully graduate from high school and continue on to college.


DC Prep created its PrepNext program to ensure that its 8th grade graduates continue their college-bound trajectory throughout their high school years and into college. The PrepNext team, which consists of three counselors, serves 300 alumni enrolled across 40 high schools and 50 colleges. Initial software platforms used to track student progress were limited to only cursory overviews of high school and colleges experiences, which led DC Prep to develop customizable data tools that were easily accessible, utilized simple data entry processes, and build around information most predictive of school success. Two proprietary data tools drive DC Prep's work: The Dashboard, which includes comprehensive data on each student, including real-time grades—a leading indicator of student performance; and the Engagement Tracker, which maintains a complete record of the type and frequency of each counselor-student contact.

Through PrepNext, each student is assigned a counselor with whom alumni and their parents meet the summer before 9th grade to set goals and anticipate challenges going into high school. During students' high school years, PrepNext counselors collect student login information to review alumni grades on a bi-weekly basis, allowing the team to celebrate student success, provide timely aid, and assist students in developing strategies to improve their performance. This information is also used to shape the agenda and identify priority topics for the weekly PrepNext meeting. 


PrepNext uses two success metrics—alumni participation and high school completion. Currently, 98% of DC Prep alumni in high school and more than 70% enrolled in college are in touch with PrepNext. To date, 96% of DC Prep's first five cohorts of graduates have completed high school.