The Office of the State Superintendent of Education has released the public school Equity Reports for the 2015-to-2016 term and the DC Public Charter School Board is hailing many of the findings. For example, the organization points out that charters in the nation’s capital educate a larger percentage of economically disadvantaged and black students compared to the city overall at 83.6 percent and 76.3 percent, respectively. In addition, the percentage of students being taught with a disability is above the average for all schools. Charters enroll 5.5 percent of students with disabilities compared to the citywide average of 5.1 percent. In addition, I find it especially fascinating that for each of the four subgroups of severity of disability, charters closely match the enrollment rates of all city wide schools.
Also impressive is the steady decrease in student suspension rates for D.C. charters. The overall percentile is now at 9.1 percent and the proportion for each subgroup of students has consistently dropped over the past three years. However, each of these rates is slightly above those for the city as a whole. Also following a positive downward trajectory is the number of lost hours in the classroom due to suspension, going from a percentage of 0.39 days during the 2012-to-2013 school year to 0.23 days in the 2015-to-2016 term. The expulsion rate at 0.21 percent of students is also at the smallest level in three years, compared to the rate of 0.1 percent for all public schools.
In addition, student movement during the year is going in the right direction. Charters, during the 2015-to-2016 school year, demonstrated their lowest proportion since the 2012-to-2013 term at -4.1 percent, compared to the citywide average of student loss and gain during the 2015-to-2016 term at a net zero percent.
Finally, student test scores on the standardized PARCC assessment are improving for all groups except white students. For example, the percentage of students scoring the career and college readiness score of four or better went up 3.7 points for black students, 6.4 percent for Hispanic pupils, 3.7 percent for English language learners, and 5.0 percent for those living in poverty, compared to the previous year. However, in spite of the improvement, these results are abysmally low with black kids earning a four or better 24.3 percent of the time, Hispanic students at 28.3 percent for the same statistic, and low-income students at 23.0 percent. White students are at 75.1 percent for rating a four or better, down 5.2 percent from the previous year.
Much progress has been made, but there is a really long way to go.