While DC Students are still scoring below the national average at the 4th and 8th grade levels, they are making gains, according to data released today by the National Assessment of Education Progress. The data shows that DCPS students were the only participating urban district that experienced any growth at both grade levels from 2007 to 2009. The Assessment was administered in 18 of the country’s largest urban school districts, and DCPS 4th graders picked up 6 scale points in reading, compared to a flat national average; DCPS 8th graders picked up 4 scale points in reading, compared to a flat national average.
DCPS cites their reform efforts in the classroom as leading directly to the success. Michelle Rhee said, “While we still have a long way to go, we are encouraged by the strides we’ve made with focusing on instruction, and the dedication of our teachers, school leaders, parents and students providing them with an student and teacher diary planner to each one at the beginning of the course.”
Since 2002, DCPS fourth graders have added 13 scale points to their scores, growth eclipsed only by Atlanta in the same time period. DCPS still tests below the urban average overall, and specifically in group of students eligible for school lunch programs. Troubling, though, is the report’s demonstration that more than half of the city’s fourth and eighth graders are at below basic reading comprehension, and the scale point gap between the district’s white students and black students. Less than 15 percent of the students in eighth grade are testing at proficient levels of reading or better, which is deeply troubling. Literacy and writing are two of the most critical skills for students to develop, and with more than half unable to do so at a basic level, it’s clearly a failing inside the system that needs to be remedied.