DC Public Schools – Greatest Growth of Any Urban District in the Nation

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Photo by PoPville flickr user ekelly80

From a press release:

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) showed the greatest growth of any urban school district in the country on the 2013 Trial Urban District Assessment, Mayor Vincent C. Gray and DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced today. DCPS is the only school district in the nation to see statistically significant growth in all tested grades and subject areas.

Overall, DCPS students’ scores grew by five points in 4th-grade reading, eight points in 8th-grade reading, seven points in 4th-grade math and five points in 8th-grade math. This growth represents the highest scores DCPS students have ever seen on this test. The test was administered in March of this year, and specifically gauges math and reading skills for 4th and 8th graders.

“These results provide further evidence that DCPS is on the right track, and that the investments we have made and the strategies we’ve employed to improve public education in the District are bearing fruit,” said Mayor Gray. “We are very proud of our students and our teachers, and these results are another reason why we need to stay the course and double down on what’s working for our students.”

“We still have a long way to go, but our students are growing, our teachers are excelling and we are ecstatic about today’s results,” said Chancellor Henderson. “I firmly believe that we are making these important strides because of our commitment to support our teachers and raise the bar for our students.

“The District is a competitive city when it comes to our schools. We have more charter schools than most other cities in the country,” said Henderson. “These results show parents that we are on the right track and that they can choose DCPS and feel good about their decision.”

DCPS has also jumped up in the rankings compared with other urban school districts. In 2007, DCPS was last among other urban districts on this test. This year, DCPS jumped ahead of other urban school districts, with as many as nine districts below.

“We are not yet where we need to be, but we are working thoughtfully and with urgency. We are finally starting to see the results we know our students are capable of achieving,” said Henderson. “It takes time, energy and effort – and we are well on our way.”

The Council of Great City Schools, an organization of the nation’s largest urban public school systems, analyzed the data and concluded that, when controlled for both race and income, DCPS showed significant gains consistent with those reported for the 2013 TUDA.

In every subject and grade, DCPS’ below-basic rates shrank significantly, proficiency rates grew and the number of advanced students doubled. In addition, DCPS students’ score growth equaled or exceeded growth of students in the District’s public charter schools.”

9 Comment

  • Unfortunately, I think gentrification might be taking credit for this good news. An influx of parents that play a more active role in their children’s lives sounds like it would lead to better test scores.

    • And I also have a hard time getting all excited when DC was the lowest ranked public school district for 15 years, and then just recently improved by two places. “Wow”.

      I know change has to start somewhere, but DCPS taking credit for this is like Mayor Gray taking credit for the budget surpluses the city has seen recently, when uncle sam is to credit.

      DC saw a massive influx of smary, young and monied people because DC was the only place for jobs. There are a lot of ancillary results of having those new, smart and monied people here, but you can’t take credit for it (although politicians love to do it)

      • Exactly. Let’s not fool ourselves, the schools here are still really bad when you compare them to many surrounding school districts.

  • It’s good that the scores are improving, but take a look at page 5 of this PDF — http://dcps.dc.gov/DCPS/Files/downloads/FINAL%202013%20TUDA%20Results.pdf — they’re starting from a low level.
    .
    Despite the improvements, for grade 4 reading and grade 8 math, more than half of DCPS students are still scoring as “Below Basic.” (The levels are “Below Basic,” “Basic,” “Proficient,” and “Advanced.”) In grade 8 reading, almost half (47%) of DCPS students are scoring as “Below Basic.” For grade 4 math, 36% are “Below Basic.”

  • SES is always the biggest driver but according to the release, the scores are up significantly even controlling for race and income. Good news all around, nothing “unfortunate” about it.

    • Yes, but the SES of the school at large has an impact on other students – for example, it tends to allow teachers to give more individual attention to students because fewer of them are problematic. So if, say, a school’s level of students below the poverty line decreased by 10%, you’d expect to see improvement even among remaining low SES students.

      • There is a lot of educational research that demonstrates very clearly that lower-performing students are pulled up by higher performing students – just by being around them and influenced by them. The cohort is what counts – a higher performing student will be pulled down if you put them in a classroom overwhelmingly made up of lower-performing students.

        This is why adverse selection – particularly the selective enrollment cherry picking done by Charters – leads to such a vicious cycle in public schools. It’s also why Charters ought to be doing so much better even without adding any magic special-non-union, free-market sauce (yet somehow they’re not).

    • I don’t doubt it. Still not unfortunate – especially for the students getting the extra attention.

  • Yes, that is great news!! Our schools are headed in the right direction — let’s keep it up!!

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