Dismal D.C. public school standardized test scores with some bright spots

Yesterday, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education released the results of D.C. public school’s second year of PARCC standardized test results.  There is special significance for these scores in 2016 since, after a 12-month hiatus, charters will now once again be tiered utilizing the Performance Management Framework and DCPS staff will be evaluated on these results as part of their IMPACT system.

So here we go.  For elementary schools, and we will focus on these findings since students are tested in grades three through eight and only once in high school, the overall proficiency rate for those prepared for college and ready to go on to the next grade, meaning those that rated a four or five on the exam, in English Language Arts is 27 percent.  For math the number is 25 percent.  If you are interested as I am in the achievement gap between white kids and those that are economically disadvantaged the variance is about 55 percent, which while huge, believe it or not, is a decrease from 2015.  Charters posted about a two percent overall increase in reading and math compared to DCPS, but please keep in mind that these schools serve a greater proportion of low-income students and fewer white pupils compared to the regular schools.

The numbers have gone up a couple of points from last year for almost all categories of students.   The only real drop in the proficiency rate was for white students in English of 4.8 percent, which the Washington Post’s Perry Stein explains is attributable to a substantial decline at Wilson High School.  Students there had a proficiency rate of 50 percent last year which went to 21 percent in 2016.  The reason for the change is unknown.  However, white charter school students also experienced a substantial decline in English.

Now for some positives.  Many charters scored above the state average.  There are too many to mention specifically so I’ve included the list here.  I’m especially impressed with some of the DC Prep and KIPP DC campuses, as well as numerous language immersion schools.  For example, DC Prep at Edgewood Street is at 56 percent proficient in English and 69 percent in math, while Washington Yu Ying is at 51 percent and 59 percent proficiency for English and math, respectively.

In addition, many charters saw strong growth from last year.  Here again KIPP DC dominates this category but there are also many Friendship PCS campuses singled out.  For example, Friendship’s Chamberlain Elementary School experienced an 18 percent increase in English and a 15 percent jump in math.

For DCPS, the School Without Walls and Benjamin Banneker High School, both student application schools, had the highest results.  But the traditional schools also showed some impressive gains, with 29 posting upticks in both reading and math.  For example, Beers Elementary School went up 11.9 percent in English and 9.5 percent in math, and School-Within-School Elementary saw English results increase 19.7 percent and math improve by 6.9 percent.

Still,there’s an extremely far way to go and many of these scores point to the fact that reform really needs to move into high gear.  If the theme of the week is collaboration between the two sectors, let’s find out what the schools that did well are doing and copy it.  Immediately.




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