Washington, DC — a City of Contrasts

I work in Washington, DC, where 50 percent of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher and 37 percent are functionally illiterate. I always knew there was an adult literacy problem in the District, but I wasn’t aware of how large the disparity was until I met Connie Spinner, head of school and the founding executive director of the Community College Preparatory Academy (CC Prep).

Spinner helped open CC Prep, a free adult charter school in Southeast DC, in the fall of 2013 to help underserved adults—including minorities, female heads of households living at or below the poverty line, and young adults emerging from the foster care system—develop the skills needed to successfully enter college and gain employment in DC’s knowledge-based economy.

The school uses MyFoundationsLab as its online curriculum, supplemented by Pearson’s online Workforce Education courses, Smarthinking, and mentoring services. Two-thirds of CC Prep’s curriculum is online. Spinner explained the school’s rationale in this way: “Computer literacy is the new literacy and every American is going to have to learn how to use the computer as a learning tool.”

After the school’s first year in operation, the numbers look good. Fifty percent of CC Prep’s students passed the GED, all of its college applicants will enter institutions of higher education at the freshman level, eighty percent of students tested passed national certifications, and seventy-five percent of students who applied for jobs are now working.

CC Prep has given its adult students hope. Toria Parnell, a student at CC Prep and a mother, credited the school with helping her reach her goals: “My overall goal was to receive my GED, which I received, and I’m planning to enroll in college in the fall so I can go to school for radiology.” Parnell is preparing for the ACCUPLACER exam and is on track to enroll as a freshman in college, having already earned one college credit.

John Fallon took note of this school in one of his 2014 blog posts. Learn more about the progress of this inspirational school by reading the Community College Preparatory Academy success story and watching the All Eyes on DC video.