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DCPS Test Scores Show Slow Progress, With Improvement in Seventh and Eighth Grade

D.C. Schools Chancellor, Kaya Henderson, announced the preliminary results of the 2011 District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS) Friday.

District of Columbia Public Schools scores on the 2011 District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS) were relatively flat compared to the results in 2010. However, District students made gains in several areas, which D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson highlighted Friday.

When compared to 2007, elementary scores show steady growth, with reading scores rising from 37.5 percent proficient in 2007 to 43.0 percent in 2011, and math scores rising from 29.3 percent proficient in 2007 to 42.3 percent in 2011, according to a press release from DCPS.

The results show that every grade is performing at higher levels in math. But notably, Grades 7 and 8 went from the lowest performing grades in math to the highest performing grades.

“In 2007, our seventh- and eighth-grade students were the lowest-performing in the district. Today, seventh and eighth graders have shown they can move us forward by making steady progress in reading and climbing to the top in math proficiency,” Chancellor Henderson said in a news release.

However, that "progress" means just about half of the seventh and eighth grade students scored proficient  in math (an increase of 4 and 8 percentage points, respectively, over 2010). If the highest performing grades achieved a 50 percent proficiency rate that means other grades fell below 50 percent proficiency in math.

For comparison, fair or not, Montgomery County released the results of its 2011 Maryland School Assessments in late June. The results showed that 88.7 percent of elementary school students and 79.6 percent of middle school students scored at the proficient or advanced levels in math.

Georgetown schools have, however, done better than the D.C. average in past years. In 2010 elementary school students at were largely proficient, with 88.4 percent proficient in math and 78.3 percent proficient in reading. Of the students tested in 2010 at 66.7 percent were proficient in math and 74.6 percent were proficient in reading. Final school level results for 2011 will be made available in early August on the OSSE website.

Henderson acknowledged that the progress made was not enough.

“DCPS must continue to make radical changes if our students are expected to be competitive with their peers on the national and international stages," she said in a press release.

Accordingly, DCPS will transition to the Common Core State Standards, which are more rigorous than the current standards and lay out what students should know and be able to do in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The DCPS website offers several explanations for the shift:

"In our current system of standards, we are comparing apples to oranges. Students in different states receive completely different educations, and this makes it difficult to discuss student performance across states."

Henderson said she and the Mayor are committed to improving District schools in the upcoming year.

“We will work hard as a school district in the next school year to build on the progress we have made. We have a long way to go in reaching our goals, but our seventh and eighth graders have proven we can make steady progress," said Henderson. 

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