Data Spotlight Award Winner: Higher Achievement


Higher Achievement’s rigorous after-school and summer academic program closes the opportunity gap for middle school youth in at-risk communities. The program's model provides a rigorous year-round learning environment, caring role models, and a culture of high expectations, resulting in college-bound scholars with character, confidence, and the skills to succeed. Higher Achievement has served more than 10,000 middle school youth in the DC area since 1975.


  • Every child graduates from high school


DC has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country. With issues such as a wide achievement gap among income levels and racial groups in the District, only 65% of students graduate on time. Additionally, standardized test results show that while 92% of white students scored proficient or above on the 2014 DC-CAS, only 42% of African-American students were proficient, and only 58% of Latino students.


To further its mission to address challenges for middle school students living in under-resourced communities, in 2008, Higher Achievement launched a tool rooted in data to bridge the achievement gap—Scholar Achievement Plans (SAPs). This tool uses report card data, attendance reports, academic progress reports, and feedback from classroom teachers to address individual challenges facing students. SAPs allow staff to target specific areas for intervention, such as improving subject grades or addressing behavioral issues, including poor attendance and time management.

The data is collected through quarterly report cards and attendance/tardiness reports from host and partner schools, in addition to interim and annual standardized test outcomes. Higher Achievement oversees this data collection and analyzes it through its web-based data management system to determine specific areas of need. Once a skill or subject has been identified, a meeting between the student, parent, teacher (when possible), mentor (when possible), and Higher Achievement staff is assembled. Participants discuss challenges, areas of strength, and specific areas of need are documented. Goals and benchmarks are then set to monitor progress.

Each member of these meetings identifies his/her role in helping the student meet their goals and rewards him or her upon completing them. Participants reconvene at a designated time to check in on progress of the SAP, and once the student has achieved the goal, a new goal may be set.


At the end of the 2013-2014 school year, 75% of Higher Achievement scholars improved their reading grades or maintained an A or B average. Likewise, 75% of scholars improved their attendance or maintained fewer than five absences. Additionally, 97% of graduates were placed in high schools of choice.