Data Spotlight Award Winner: Thurgood Marshall


Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) is a college-preparatory public charter high school located in Ward 8’s historic Anacostia neighborhood. TMA prepares students to succeed in college and instills in them an understanding of democracy, as well as advocacy for themselves and others. The non-selective high school serves nearly 400 students annually.


  • Every youth attains a postsecondary credential


Thurgood Marshall Academy is located in Ward 8—a community where fewer than 10% of residents have a college degree. Thurgood Marshall thus accepted the challenging mission to prepare all students for success in college and engage actively in our democratic in society.

Prior to 2009, TMA staff noticed that students were applying to few competitive colleges and more public institutions, but they could note accurately determine the reason. The students' college choices were not the best fit, as they led to higher transfer rates and longer college completion time.


Thurgood Marshall Academy established the goal of growing their students' chances of acceptance by matching them to the right-fit college and increasing student retention by supporting alumni needs.

The first step in this process is completing an online profile in Naviance, a college and career readiness tool, which shows how 9th grade GPA influences college acceptance--an exercise that provides an academic benchmark to which students can aspire throughout high school. Using the data tool to hone in on colleges that match their needs, during their junior year, students determine whether a college is the right fit for them and can also compare profiles to former TMA students accepted to the same institution.

TMA's college and alumni team creates "scattergrams" to see college enrollment trends for all TMA alumni, as well as which colleges award the most financial aid, and those that graduate TMA students successfully within four years. The scattergrams are used to tailor a "top colleges list" for every student—those that meet 100% of a student's need, those meeting 75%, and so on.

Seniors take a year-long course in which they apply to at least five colleges and use Naviance independently to review student data and find the right college for themselves. Families are also introduced to this software, so that they too can follow their student's progress throughout the process.

Finally, once students enroll in college, the TMA team uses National Student Clearinghouse data to track enrollment, whether students have transferred, what year they graduate, and with what major. If alumni request a transfer to another school, TMA uses its college and career readiness software to send files directly to the new school of their choice, making the process fast and efficient.


Since shifting to a data-driven model, TMA has seen significant outcomes. Among the last four graduating classes, more than 90% of TMA alumni enrolled in college immediately after high school, and 84% of these students are still enrolled in a college and on track to earn a degree. TMA students are also exceeding national the college retention rate of 59%.