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The Declining D.C. School System Hired Political Strategists. It Seems To Have Worked.

Location, academics and reputation are the strongest factors motivating parents to choose a D.C. public school, according to a survey of 1,400 parents with newly enrolled children during the 2014-2015 school year.

Most of the parents reported that they were pleased with their choice, with 68 percent rating their school “above average” or “exceptional” and 73 percent rating the teachers at their school “above average” or “exceptional.” Nearly nine out of 10 respondents — 87 percent — said they would recommend the school district to other parents.

Last year, consultants trained principals of traditional schools to knock on doors in a direct appeal to families, an effort that continues this summer. Now they are refining their pitch with messages based on the new market research, which included the parent survey, focus groups and polling data, a package that cost the school system $95,000.