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Thurgood Marshall Academy the top-performing high school East of the River on 2019 PARCC scores

TMA students show growth from 2018 tests and continue to outperform citywide peers


WASHINGTON – Results on the most recent Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment show that Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) is the top performing high school East of the River, and is in the top ten highest achieving high schools in the District of Columbia.

TMA’s students outpaced the city-wide average by 12 percentage points in English Language Arts (ELA) and 8 points in Geometry, and improved from last year’s scores by 10 percentage points in ELA and 5 points in Geometry.  In addition, twice the percentage of students in our at-risk population met or exceeded college ready expectations in ELA compared to similar students across DC.

The chart below shows the percentage of TMA students who met or exceeded college ready expectations in ELA and Geometry, compared to city-wide averages.

Subject TMA (Level 4+) City-Wide (Level 4+)
English Language Arts 46% 34%
Geometry 26% 18%


“These results confirm what many of us in the community already know,” said Raymond Weeden, Thurgood Marshall Academy’s new Executive Director. “Our students, families, staff, and teachers are working together to do something really impressive. TMA educates a majority of the students with the greatest needs in this city, and gives them the tools and support to be college and career ready.”

Administered in the Spring each year, the PARCC exam is one measure of students’ mastery of DC’s academic standards. Results are scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with Levels 4 and 5 indicating that students are on track to leave high school ready for success in college and career. Level 3 signifies that students are approaching that readiness.

In addition to TMA students outperforming their peers at the 4+ level, 70% scored Level 3 or higher on the ELA assessment and 47% scored Level 3 or higher on the Geometry assessment.

“One reason these scores are so impressive is that each year, more than half of our incoming 9th grade students arrive at TMA with math and reading skills below grade level,” said Abdullah Zaki, Head of School. “Despite that starting point, everyone here believes each and every student can improve and eventually perform well on this rigorous state test. We back up that belief with strategies and resources to make sure they get all the support they need.”

Students continue their academic excellence throughout their time at TMA, graduating and then attending college at rates far above the District and national averages. The graduation rate for the Class of 2018 was 87%, and 84% of those graduating students enrolled in college within one year of graduation.

“As I work with this team in the coming school year, we will continue our commitment to infusing joy and rigor in the classroom so that even more of our students, regardless of where they live, receive a great education that prepares them to succeed in college and beyond,” said Mr. Weeden.

More information about PARCC can be found at


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

Summer Prep

Summer Prep is a really special opportunity for TMA’s incoming 9th graders. For a month, they get to meet grade level teachers, make new friends, and learn about TMA no brainers, legal skills and the schools mission. The students get a behind the scenes look at what makes Thurgood Marshall Academy a successful learning environment.

A day in the life of a summer prep student begins at 8:00am with a nutritional breakfast and chance to connect with other students before classes start at 8:30am. Students then engage in 75 minute classes to prepare them with high school content and effective strategies and habits to help on their educational journey. Midday, they enjoy lunch and time outside for recreational activities. Dismissal is at 1pm daily, aside from Tuesday’s where they get out a bit later due to Advisory. Summer advisory included special guests, student panels, college workshops, or groups that came in to enlighten the students with educational and cultural content..

Many of our TMA Educators opt for a shortened summer in order to teach summer prep each year. Some of Ms.Crosby favorite moments included…“college trips, I love seeing our students excited about college, and providing them information early in their high school journey. Also, seeing the THEN and NOW faces. The first day I see sad faces, because students would rather be at home, with friends, or realize they are at school in the summertime. As opposed to the last day, I see happy and sad faces. Only this time, the sad faces are because the program had ended and they wish for more weeks and happy faces because they have made new friendships, built relationships, love their new teachers and are thrilled to be joining the TMA community.”

And Ms. Miller favorite moment is from the Summer Law Day hosted by Wiley Rein LLP. “It was a wonderful opportunity for students to showcase a number of positive attributes- leadership, literacy, communication, and teamwork!   We had some surprise personalities come out and it was a delight to see the “lawyer” inside emerge!”

From this, we understand that summer prep is not just a program, it’s the beginning of their pathway to college! Here students begin to build and strengthen the grit, perseverance, and relationships needed to carry them through this important milestone.  After summer prep, they are prepared for life at Thurgood Marshall Academy and know that there is a dedicated team of staff and teachers ready to support them every step of the way!

Summer Law Day at Wiley Rein

On Friday July 19, our Summer Prep students had the opportunity to attend Law Day at Wiley Rein LLP in downtown DC. Dressed in professional wear, students worked with summer associates, law partners, and staff on contracts, TMA legal skills (research, argumentation, critical thinking, advocacy, and negotiation) and using your voice. Derek Petit, Wiley Rein Associate has been involved with Summer Law Day from the early days, and even helped facilitate our partnership with Howard Law (his alma mater). He really stressed “making a connection with the students,” to fellow Wiley Rein employees in the early morning training.

Understanding contracts is an important skill in life and as it relates to our TMA students, they will sign several contracts this fall to set expectations for the school year. School contracts like… code of conduct, anti-violence, homework help, computer lab safety, etc are just a few agreements that both the students and parents need to be aware of to be successful at Thurgood Marshall Academy. By the end of this session, students had a grasp of the three elements of contract negotiation: an offer, an acceptance, and a consideration.  “Each year the students bring such a great energy to law day. It’s my third year participating, the curriculum is so relevant for them and its always interesting seeing them gain confidence throughout the day, from the contract work to the mock trails,” says Samantha Lee, Wiley Rein Associate.

Next, the students were presented with a (situation) case and from that had to conduct a small claims mock trial. For most of our students this was their first time hearing of or participating in a mock trial. Many are familiar with Judge Judy or Judge Mathis and you should have seen the excitement when they were able to be the judge, plaintiff or defendant for the case. Students split up to discuss the evidence, write out talking points, and develop their arguments. This was Wiley Rein’s Counsel, Keith Matthews’ third year participating in TMA’s Summer Law Day. “I Iook forward to this each summer and this year’s group of students were excited and engaged in the law components.  I really enjoyed counseling the ‘judges’ during the mock trail. It was great to see student Ka’Niya decipher the word mitigate through our conversations.

At the end of the day, each group chose a ‘Lawyer of the Day’. This was awarded to a student who was an active participant, showed a certain zest for law, or displayed significant improvement or involvement throughout their time together.  Students were asked their favorite parts of law day? “Mock trials, being a judge, being in the law firm, winning my case, arguing with others, getting lawyer of the day, defending myself, talking to real lawyers,” exclaimed the students.

A special thank you to TMA’s Summer Prep Staff and Programs Team for all your hard work coordinating this incredible day. Lastly, to Diana Yee (Attorney Recruitment Assistant) and Janell Mallard (Senior Recruiting and Diversity Manager) with Wiley Rein for assisting with logistics of the 2019 TMA Summer Law Day!

Congrats, Class of 2019!

On Friday June 14, our TMA seniors marched across the stage at the Cramton Auditorium on Howard University Campus and received their high school diplomas. There were happy tears, shouts of joy, and lots of hugs exchanged during the 2019 TMA Commencement.

Our graduates were accepted into more than eighty-five colleges, many receiving scholarship funds. Anthony James (Class of 2019, Salutatorian) is TMA’s first QuestBridge Scholarship Winner, he was awarded a full ride to University of Chicago. Jayla Holdip was awarded a POSSE Scholarship, giving her 4-year tuition and fees to University of Rochester. This years Valedictorian, India McNeil spoke and reflected on her high school years and shared her aspirations as she heads to Bates College this fall with various scholarships awarded as well.

With TMA’s law- themed, college prep curriculum, we strive to prepare our students for college and to be active and engaged citizens. Throughout their high school years, they completed four years of portfolios, partnered with Law firms, took college tours, endured countless intense course loads, did legal skills work, enrichment activities, AP classes, 100+ hours of community service, participated in sports, clubs and groups, and heard from incredible speakers both inside and outside the classroom.

We are so thrilled to see what is next for our TMA Warriors. They will attend schools across the U.S. such as University of San Francisco, Howard University, University of Connecticut, The Ohio State University, George Washington University, Penn State, Michigan State, Temple University, US Coast Guard, to name a few.

Congratulations to the Class of 2019 for all of your hard work. On behalf of the teachers, staff, and community partners… we are so proud of you and cannot wait to hear of all the incredible things you do in college and beyond!

College Acceptances

We are so proud of our TMA Graduates, Class of 2019. Next stop… college!

Colleges Accepting Class of 2019 TMA Graduates
Alabama A&M University
Alabama State University
Albany State University
Albright College
Allegheny College
Baldwin Wallace University
Barry University
Bates College
Bennett College
Bowling Green State University
Brandeis University
Carthage College
Catawba College
Central State University
Centre College
Champlain College
Clark Atlanta University
Coppin State University
Delaware State University
Earlham College
Florida A&M University
Fordham University
Frostburg State University
George Mason University
Georgia State University
Goucher College
Guilford College
Hampton University
Harrisburg University of Science & Technology
Hartwick College
Hofstra University
Hood College
Howard University
Johnson & Wales University (North Miami)
Johnson C. Smith University
Kent State University
Kentucky State University
Lincoln University
Livingstone College
Longwood University
Marshall University
Marymount Manhattan College
Marymount University
McDaniel College
Michigan State University
Montgomery College – Silver Spring
Morgan State University
Mount Saint Mary’s University
New England College
North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina Central University
North Carolina Wesleyan College
Northampton Community College
Old Dominion University
Pace University, New York City
Pennsylvania State University
Radford University
Saint Leo University
Shaw University
Shepherd University
Spelman College
St. John’s College
St. John’s University – Queens
SUNY Albany
Susquehanna University
Temple University
The George Washington University
The Ohio State University
The University of Tampa
Trinity Washington University
University of Chicago
University of Cincinnati
University of Connecticut
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
University of Rochester
University of San Francisco
University of the District of Columbia
University of Vermont
Utica College
Virginia State University
Washington College
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Whittier College
Xavier University of Louisiana
York College of Pennsylvania

Wilderness Club- Camping Adventures

On Saturday May 18, Twelve students from TMA’s Wilderness Club had the opportunity to go camping at Pointe Lookout State Park in Scotland, Maryland. The club has been making a similar trip for the past six years, but this was byfar the most picturesque landscape, location, and park.

The clubs purpose is to learn about the outdoors, environmental concerns and get out of the city and into nature. Students are responsible for all aspects of the trip from putting up their tents to cooking food to breaking down the campsite.

Club advisors, Ms. Culbreath and Ms. Schwarz reflect on the experience. “We are always awestruck by how savvy our students are. Their ability to work as a team while pitching tents and their delight in cheering each other on when facing a new challenges such as canoeing is wonderful to see.  Every year I leave camp a bit jealous by their campfire cooking skills… some students make pancakes better than I can at home on the stove!”

“The hiking wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I never really hiked that far before so it was a good experience” says 11th grade Meiko.

11th grader Daniel explained, “My favorite part of the camping trip was at the campsite, just chilling out and talking. I got to get to know people better than while we are at school.”

Students went canoeing, hiking, cooked over a fire, pitched tents, played games, and enjoyed a campfire.

“I enjoyed canoeing! We saw baby turtles and different types of birds when we canoed around the peninsula” exclaimed TMA Junior, Myrikal.

The Wilderness Club is one of many enrichment programs offered at Thurgood Marshall Academy. To start a club at TMA, a few students just needs to submit an idea/ passion/ hobby and find an adult advisor willing to support that activity.

Mr. Whitaker and Hispanic Cultural Event

Meet Mr. Ja-Mel Whitaker from the Spanish Department. Five years ago, he began teaching to be an agent for change. He strives to expose student to cultures that are different, yet similar to theirs. 

Although he feels like he is still planting his roots at TMA as a first year teacher, he is impressed by the students, program and work life balance of the staff. TMA has allowed me to hone in on my craft while pushing me to be a better educator,” explains Whitaker. In his Spanish 3 class the students are finally realizing the discipline of the language. The content area applies to an array of topics and subjects they are learning about.

When not at TMA, you may see Mr. Whitaker moonlighting as a Spanish or Sign Language Interpreter. And in his free time, he enjoys running, hiking, going to the beach, bowling, shopping, hanging out with his nieces and nephews, exploring new cultures, traveling, eating at new restaurants, and exploring all that DC has to offer.

“Thurgood Marshall Academy students are so lucky to learn in a school that is not only preparing them for college but for the real world. I want to be known as the teacher that pushes education as a key to success, a key to getting out and becoming a productive GLOBAL citizen,” says Ja’Mel.

Recently, the Spanish Department hosted a Hispanic Cultural Event for students. There was a salsa making station, made to order quesadillas, arts and crafts and the highlight of the event was bachata and salsa lessons taught by yours truly(Mr. Whitaker). This was a fun opportunity for the students to share their love of the culture and language with their peers and teachers. Congrats to Ms. Alverado- Sieg, Ms. Stevens, and Mr. Whitaker on a successful event.

Boys Track Team are PCSAA League Champions!

Thurgood Marshall Academy boys track team are the PCSAA League Champions for the second year in a row!

On Tuesday May 14th, our Warriors competed with maturity, passion, and true athleticism. This season was tough. There was turnover in coaching staff, plus, our warriors practice onsite at TMA two days a week and are bussed to a public track two days a week. Even with this, the track team ran, jumped, and soared past the competition!

Micheal B, beat his personal record of 28ft on shotput and discus and threw a 31ft at this meet. “I had a sense of extreme pride knowing that the pain was temporary, but this awesome experience with my team will be remembered forever.”  

Student, Samuel Clark took home 2nd place in the 4×8 relay, “I felt more confident in myself than usual, the team really hyped me up.”

While 11th grader, Delonte, also had PR from 14ft to 15.9ft in the long jump. In addition, he took home 2nd place in the triple jump.

Even after 12 years with TMA, Athletic Director Michele Thompson held back tears watching the team compete last week. “Each student athlete boarded the bus for the track meet with the determination to win.  They wanted to set both personal best records and bring back a championship win for TMA.  Throughout the season they persevered through adversity and many setbacks.  Their dedication and self-discipline, the stuff that separates winners from the rest was evident as I watched the events.  Our TMA track and field team is the epitome of true “Warriors”.

Track Coaches Alex Charles and Chuck Jones could not be more proud of our TMA students performance and teamwork throughout the season. Based on these results and wins, we have several students that qualified for States.  

Join us at the DCSAA State Track and Field Championship on Wednesday 5/22 and Thursday 5/23 at 2:00pm at Dunbar High School. Go Warriors Go!

TMA hosts 10th Annual College Fair

On Thursday April 11, 2019 TMA hosted our 10th Annual College Fair. This College Fair is the largest in the city with more than 90 colleges and universities across the US present. 200+ students came from several schools in the area to learn about the offerings and connect with admissions staff from these prominent schools.

Thurgood Marshall Academy has an extensive College Counseling Program to support our students’ post-secondary preparation and college application process. The College Counselor organizes events such as the College Application Nights, on-site admissions sessions, FAFSA night, college visits, college fair, and a parent night for sophomore and junior families to increase the visibility and awareness of college in every grade.

The College Counselor’s hands-on assistance with the research and application process helped the Class of 2017 continue the tradition of 100% college acceptance, you can view a full list of colleges accepting our students.

Thurgood Marshall Academy is committed to helping young people reach their full academic and personal potential. We are dedicated to supporting and assisting our students in acquiring the tools and knowledge needed to make informed decisions and live successful and fulfilling lives.