DC Public Schools Fail to Meet Benchmarks

first_imgKaya Henderson, chancellor of D.C. Public Schools (DCPS), along with Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) announced Nov. 30 that assessments from standardized testing showed District’s students largely failing to meet benchmarks for college preparedness.Close Up Of Student Lockers In High SchoolAccording to the data supplied by OSSE, only one out of every four District of Columbia students in grades 3 to 8 is are actually receiving the skills they need to be prepared for college or a career. “The PARCC scores show that D.C. Public Schools still have a lot of work to do to prepare every student for a successful future in college and a career. This year’s test serves as an important baseline from which we will work to help prepare all students,” Henderson said in a written statement.  “DCPS is committed to having difficult, but honest, conversations with families about how their children are doing.”The situation is much worse for many Black students in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, where the percentage of elementary and middle schoolers, who are “on track” for college and careers, often dip into the teens or single digits, the data shows. In fact, at some schools, no students met the new college and career readiness benchmarks set through the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, a newly adopted testing system that replaces the old District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System (DC-CAS).“Some of our lowest performing schools continue to be low performing because they face tremendous challenges,” said Kaya Henderson, citing high concentrations of poverty as one of several obstacles that such schools must overcome. “It’s not okay if some of our schools are doing okay and some are not.”According to data from the office:Only 17 percent of Black students in grades 3-8 met the math expectation under the new assessment, versus 70 percent of White students.Similarly, only 17 percent of Black students in grades 3-8 met the English language arts expectation, versus 79 percent of White students.The percentage of “at-risk” students – that is, those on welfare, homeless or in foster care – as well as economically disadvantaged, and English Language Learner students who met the math and English standards were also low, ranging from 10 to 17 percent.With the District’s poor results, there is room for vast improvement. “These results set a new baseline and reflect the higher standards the District adopted to ensure students achieve 21st century college and career readiness,” said State Superintendent Hanseul Kang in a statement. “Just as scores improved on the DC CAS over time, the District expects scores to improve on the PARCC assessment.”But others are not so assured that scores can rise in the current system.  “What is most troubling about these results is that the test charts how students apply knowledge, not just what they know.  It means the District is not teaching our kids how to be critical thinkers,” said Charlotte Chambliss, a parent of a DCPS student enrolled at Jefferson Middle School, in Southwest. “These measurements suggest our kids are dim – because they are not ready for college or a job – and that is simply not the case.”Public charter schools outperformed DCPS in most areas, said Scott Pearson, executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board. “I point that out not to thump our chest, and I also do so with the full knowledge that public charter schools are not strictly comparable to public schools,” he said. “But it’s important to highlight this performance because it shows that charter schools are fulfilling their promise of delivering results for DC’s families.”According to the data, 21 percent of Black public charter school students in grades 3-8 met the English language arts standard, versus 13 percent of Black students in the same grades in DCPS. It also shows 22 percent of Black public charter school students in grades 3-8 met the math standard, versus 12 percent of Black students in the same grades in DCPS.The higher performance of public charter schools was particularly beneficial for Black students, who met the new college and career readiness standards at nearly twice the rate of Black students in DCPS. “One of the things that we’re really proud about with our charter schools is that when we look at our very best charters, they’re not just concentrated in more affluent areas,” Pearson said. “Many of what we call our Tier One charter schools are in Ward 7, in Ward 8, in high poverty areas around the city.”last_img