Our TOP 10 List: 2015 PARCC Results

On Monday, I attended the Office of the State Superintendent for Education’s release of the 2015 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) results for 3rd through 8th graders, which revealed that only about one-quarter of DC elementary and middle school students met or exceeded expectations on the English and Language Arts (ELA) and math assessments. 


The press release highlighted the fact that the PARCC is a much more rigorous assessment than the DC CAS. In fact, 17% fewer DC 3rd through 8th graders scored proficient in math and 13% fewer scored proficient in reading on the new PARCC assessments than did on the 2014 DC CAS.


However, this should not come as a surprise as the higher standards on the PARCC were one of the major selling points for adopting the more rigorous test and school officials in DC and across the country have attempted to prepare the public for what might seem like a large drop in student performance.


As a parent of two DCPS students, I must say I left feeling very optimistic. It wasn’t the release of the results, which will serve as a baseline, and again didn’t reveal anything new. It was the collegiality of our DC leader in public education.


As I have written before, education is a highly contentious and often polarizing issue in the District, and leaders haven’t always been aligned in their priorities or messaging. But yesterday, the message was resoundingly clear: we have much more to do for those children who have been left behind and continue to be left behind, particularly children of color, economically disadvantaged children, children with special needs, and young English Language Learners.


 But as the DC KIDS COUNT organization, we couldn’t help but analyze the data! Here’s our TOP 10 PARCC Data Highlights:


  1. 92% of DC students took the PARCC last year, one of the highest rates in the country for participating states.
  2. While the percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectation on the ELA assessment was relatively even between grade levels, it dropped steeply in math, from 30% in the 3rd grade to 17% in the 8th grade.
  3. More than twice as many elementary and middle school students met or exceeded expectation on the math assessment than did in high school. 
  4. The racial achievement gaps are substantial on the PARCC: 53% more white students than black students met or achieved expectations in math and 62% more did so in ELA.
  5. These racial achievement gaps are larger on the PARCC than on the 2014 DC CAS, where 45% and 50% of 3rd - 8th grade students scored proficient or higher in math and reading respectively.
  6. Far too few (only 4%) of special education students in elementary and middle school met or achieved expectation on the math and ELA assessments.
  7. The percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations on the PARCC was similar to the percentage that scored proficient on the 2015 NAEP, another rigorous test that DC students have rapidly improved on over the past decade
  8. An equal share (25%) of both public and public charter students met or exceeding expectations in ELA.
  9. More than a third more English Language Learners met or exceeded expectations in math than in ELA.
  10. Only 10% of the more than 13,000 elementary and middle school students designated as ‘At-Risk’ met or achieved expectations in ELA and only 13% did so in math.



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