For years I’ve enjoyed the data analysis performed by FOCUS after the annual release of D.C. public schools’ standardized test scores. 2016 is no different in that the organization’s review of PARCC results demonstrates that charters are outperforming DCPS in almost every grade level in English and math. The overall variation for students attending charters versus DCPS for ratings of 4 and 5, in other words kids that were found to be at grade level and on the way to college readiness, was 4 points in reading and 2.5 points in math.
While these statistics are not impressive the difference becomes much greater when you examine subgroups of pupils in the third grade, a key time in a kid’s education. The indicator that I immediately go to is the one for low-income children. Here, charters outperform the traditional schools 25 percent to 14 percent in reading and 38 percent to 24 percent in math.
Still, these numbers are so low. In addition, if you examine the overall results for students living in poverty you will see that the combined average receiving a 4 or 5 for charters is 23 percent compared to the DCPS percentage of 14.6. This is a difference of 8.4 points.
The one number that does get me excited from the FOCUS review is the number of kids scoring in the college readiness range for those living in Wards 7 and 8. Here charters have 1,114 pupils in this category in English versus 414 for DCPS. In math the pattern is the same with 1,189 students in charter schools scoring a 4 or 5 while in DCPS the number is 486.
Perhaps there is some room for optimism.