Artwork and projects decorate the light blue walls of Inspired Teaching Demonstration School, an inquiry-based learning public charter school now in its eighth year.
A colorful “body map,” with the organs labeled, covers the door of one prekindergarten classroom. On the wall outside the other pre-K classroom hang drawings of guitars because the class read a picture book about the childhood of Jimi Hendrix when learning about musical instruments. Down the hall, the 3-year-old class has been experimenting with paints, both watercolors and temperas.
Everything displayed on the walls of the three-story building on Douglas Street NE in D.C.’s Ward 5 is student-made.
“Teachers really value our creativity here,” says Takhari Millner, a seventh-grader who has been attending ITDS since kindergarten.
Ranked a tier-one public charter school by the D.C. Public Charter School Board, ITDS opened in 2011 and serves 472 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade. There’s two classes per grade, except for seventh and eighth grade, which will each expand from one class to two when the school reaches its roughly 525-student capacity in 2020. For the 2018-19 school year, ITDS received 1,745 applications for 125 spots. Its waiting list currently has 913 students.
ITDS students have consistently outperformed their peers in both the public charter school sector and District of Columbia Public Schools on state exams, yet test prep and standardization are the antithesis of the school’s model. Born out of a partnership with the Center for Inspired Teaching, ITDS operates a demonstration school for the best practices in inquiry-based teaching and active learning methods.
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