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Archive for October, 2015

Thurgood Marshall Academy Students Significantly Outperform the District on PARCC Exam

WASHINGTON – The PARCC scores released today show that Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) students continue to significantly outperform city averages and the school remains one of the best high schools in the District of Columbia.

PARCC is a Common Core aligned assessment of K-12 students in English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics.  The new assessment replaced the DC CAS in reading, composition and mathematics last year. Because it is more rigorous and presents a fuller picture of student learning, it is considered to be a better indicator of college and career readiness for students. Results are scored on a level of 1 to 5; a Level 3 indicates that students are “approaching” readiness, while a Level 4 indicates “attainment.”

TMA’s tenth graders participated in the Geometry and ELA II exams. In ELA, 56.6% earned Level 4 or higher and 77.1% of students earned a Level 3 or higher, outperforming the citywide averages of 25% (at or above Level 4) and 42% (at or above Level 3). In Geometry, 13.1% earned Level 4 and 59.5% of students earned a Level 3 or higher, outperforming the citywide averages of 10% (at or above Level 4) and 34% (at or above Level 3). Additionally, more than 58% of students labeled as “economically disadvantaged” scored at or above a 4 in ELA, as compared with the city average of 16.5%.

“We are truly proud of our students, our teachers, and our staff. This is a testament to all of their hard work,” said Richard Pohlman, TMA’s Interim Executive Director. “While the test indicates that a great number of our students are on track to graduate college ready, our staff and faculty continue to focus on ensuring that all of our students have the tools necessary to succeed in college and beyond.”

When the District announced the transition to PARCC in 2011, TMA took a number of steps to prepare, including aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessments with the new, more rigorous Common Core standards. “Our leadership, faculty, and staff have worked to revise our curriculum to meet the demands of the common core state standards,” said Kena Allison, the school’s Interim Head of School who has also served as a TMA science teacher and instructional coach for several years. “We continue to work diligently to make sure our students are ready for the rigors of a college education.”

PARCC 2015 Test Results


More information about PARCC can be found at


About Thurgood Marshall Academy: Founded in 2001, Thurgood Marshall Academy’s mission is to prepare students to succeed in college and actively engage in our democratic society. Thurgood Marshall Academy is an open enrollment public charter high school in Ward 8’s Anacostia. It is one of the highest performing non-selective high schools in the District and serves 400 students. The school upholds Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s legacy of equal opportunity through its commitment to providing an excellent education for all students.

Clubs In Action: The Green Club


Ms. Lee (center) introduces students to the Green Club during TMA’s annual Club’s Fair.

Since the beginning of the school year, the Green Club has organized three Farm Stands, a wholesale event where faculty, staff, and the community can buy fresh fruits and vegetables that were grown at TMA’s on-site garden. The Green Club is one of the oldest clubs at TMA, established in 2007, and is advised by Ms. Lee, a Social Studies teacher with a passion for all-things-green. She works alongside the Green Club Coordinator to introduce students to the dynamics of maintaining a healthy garden.

At the heart of TMA’s Green Club, the garden serves two purposes:

  • To teach students strategies for well-being through healthy food choices, nutritional literacy, and physical education
  • To provide a location for garden-based lessons that support academic achievement

“The Green Club gives people a chance to see how eating healthy looks,” said 12th-grader George Marshall, who is a Green Club veteran. Serving on the club for the past four years, Marshall often encourages his mother to make better cooking choices. “I tell my mom to use fresh fruits and vegetables instead of factory foods. She hasn’t been able to attend a Farm Stand yet, but I always take produce home so that she will have better and healthier options to cook with,” said Marshall.

The Farm Stand is open to the public every Thursday after school.

Students plant and harvest year-round with hopes to use the garden as a longstanding resource to combat unhealthy eating choices in the Anacostia area.

tma garden

A member of the Green Club leads a Garden Tour.

The Green Club gives Marshall and the community access to fresh crops during every season. Taking a tour of the TMA garden would take a ‘tourist’ through weeds that uncover sun gold cherry tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, bell peppers, swiss chard, kale, okra, beets, chives, thyme, sage and other herbs, string beans, butternut squash, tomatoes, carrots, sorrel, and even flowers to create bouquets.

Next month, the club and a few volunteers will work together to ‘winterize’ the garden and get it ready for the colder months so that all of the plants, fruits and veggies will be able to survive throughout the winter. Marshall is looking forward to the all-hands-on-deck process that includes planting, building hoop houses, pruning, and mulching. “The Green Club doesn’t just encourage students to eat healthier, but it’s also an opportunity for all students to pitch in and be involved in maintaining the garden, which takes a lot of work and commitment,” said Marshall.

The Green Club also leads cooking demonstrations that showcase their favorite healthy meals. Marshall and the Green Club have made a number of dishes including roasted peppers, butternut squash soup (Marshall’s all-time favorite), and fruit pies. Homemade pasta sauce is next on the menu as the students make use of the remaining roma tomatoes.



A Pathway to Success: Dominique’s Story

Dominique Griffin

Dominique Griffin (TMA ’09) is awarded with a certificate after completing a year-long program with the Peace Corps.

Dominique Griffin (TMA ’09) is the newest member of Pathways, TMA’s monthly giving program. A notable alumna who has done service work in underdeveloped countries, spent a year in the Peace Corps, and served as a mentor for TMA’s Mentorship Program, Dominique says the activities and programs at TMA gave her an open-mind that empowered her to make a difference. Now, the Pathways Monthly Giving Program is, as Dominique puts it, “a chance to give back.”


A Voice Inspired by an Activist: Charleah’s Story

Eleventh grader, Charleah Collington, has been singing since she was three-years-old. Along with her long-term goal to be a lawyer, Charleah has a vision to, one day, sing gospel music professionally. In the meantime, she’s developing her gifted voice with a multi-talented group called FRESHH Inc., a hip-hop theater ensemble of young women, ages 13–20, who pay tribute to “warrior women.”

Recently, Charleah, who was excused from after-school for this special occasion, and the all-girls-group of eight performed for the Women’s Voices Theater Festival and honored well-known artists in a high-energy performance titled “We Speak their Names – A Tribute to Warrior Women.” During the hour-long performance at the Kennedy Center, Charleah wowed the audience with her rendition of Nina Simone’s “I’ve Put a Spell on You.” Charleah reminded us of Nina Simone’s soulful sound that changed the industry in the 1960s, a pivotal era in the Civil Rights Movement.


Charleah Collington, 11th grader, performed at the Kennedy Center with her all-girls group FRESHH, Inc.

“I love all kinds of artists,” said Charleah. “But I’m really inspired by those who use their music to say something meaningful. It’s those artists whose lyrics will live on forever because they made a difference in the world.”

Nina Simone, whom Charleah emulated so well during her solo performance, was much more than an American singer, songwriter, pianist, or arranger. She was a Civil Rights Activist whom Charleah chose to reenact because she is a “warrior woman” whose music made a statement during this unforgettable time in history. While Charleah chose to perform Simone’s popular hit, “I’ve Put a Spell on You,” Nina Simone is also known for using her music to highlight injustice. Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam” was the song where she openly addressed the racial inequality that was on the rise in the US. The number was a response to the murder of Medgar Evers and the bombing of a church in Alabama that killed four black girls.

Thurgood Marshall Academy provides students with the resources and knowledge they need to advocate for themselves and their communities. By introducing our students to pioneering revolutionaries who use their craft to stand up for equality, we give them real-life examples to follow.

See Charleah and FRESHH, Inc. in action below. Charleah’s Nina Simone rendition starts at time-stamp 31.40.