DC Singled Out For Outstanding Math & Reading Gains

The evidence is piling up: educational achievement in DC is finally on the rise. According to the recently released results of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), DC had the most overall growth in the nation, and stood alone with Tennessee as the only states to make significant gains in math and reading for both fourth and eighth grade students. DC students are making national news with this achievement: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave a shout out to DC in his statement on the NAEP scoresand appeared at a press conference with DC Mayor Vince Gray and top DC education officials.

The NAEP results help validate the gains seen in this year’s DC-CAS results, which faced controversy over the way in which they were scored. The NAEP, administered to a nationally representative sample of students, is one of the only common metrics that allow us to compare educational performance among jurisdictions over time.  

The charts above show the change in the percent of DC students scoring “proficient” on the NAEP, and the change in the average NAEP scale score (on a 500 point scale) from 2011 to 2013. It is fantastic to see these positive changes across the board. However, even though DC leads the way in growth, the District is still well below the national average in all subjects. This means there is still a long way to go before all DC children are learning the grade-level skills in math and reading that they need to graduate prepared for their next steps in life.

Much like the 2013 DC-CAS, the NAEP scores indicate that while scores are improving for black and Hispanic students, DC’s achievement gap remains the highest in the nation. And tracking the achievement gap for students from low income families has become difficult in DC because the methods of tracking family income are changing.

These NAEP results include both DC Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter school students. We’ll have even more information about DCPS and how it compares to other urban districts when the results of the NAEP Trial Urban District Assessments (TUDA) are released soon. Until then, please join us in congratulating DC students and teachers on their achievements, and join DC Action for Children as we work to ensure that every child in DC has the assets and supports they need to thrive, in and out of the classroom.