Test scores reflect deep disparities by ward

Last month, OSSE released the 2010-11 D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS) aggregate results. Scores were reported for elementary and secondary schools (as a whole) in both reading and math.

DC Action took a look at the results and our analysis is presented in this new data snapshot: D.C. Student Test Scores Show Uneven Progress. Our major takeaways are:

  • Both D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter schools have seen improvement when looking at data over the past five years;
  • After peaking in 2009, DCPS elementary school scores have declined for the past two years; and
  • At the secondary school level, public charter schools as a group consistently outperform DCPS schools, but there is a wide range of performance among charters – some performing much higher than DCPS averages and some performing much lower.

Just last week OSSE released school-level DC CAS results. This data allows us to dig much deeper look for trends within schools and wards. Let the analysis begin!

The Washington Post created a graphic showing the percent of students scoring proficient or above broken down by ward. Click here to see the graph. The title says it all; there is a deep divide in DC CAS scores. Affluent Ward 3 boasts pass rates (scores of proficient or above) that are 41 to 56 percentage points higher than pass rates in Wards 7 and 8.

This gap in achievement exists despite the fact that Ward 8 scores had an increase of 4 percentage points in each category this year, and Ward 7 secondary math scores had the highest jump — a seven percentage point increase (still only 37 percent of these students tested proficient or above).

There were several standout schools in Ward 8. Bill Turque recognized the following in his article about the scores, all public charter schools:

  • Achievement Prep (87 in math, 60 in reading)
  • KIPP D.C. College Prep (77 in reading, 92 in math)
  • Thurgood Marshall Academy (67 in reading, 75 in math)

KIPP D.C. College Prep and Thurgood Marshall Academy outperformed the District’s top open enrollment high school, Woodrow Wilson (66 in reading, 52 in math) in Ward 3.

These results will determine which schools made the No Child Left Behind “Adequate Yearly Progress” benchmark. An OSSE press release tells us that:

  • 193 of the District’s 218 schools were assessed by the DC CAS
  • Six of those 193 schools closed at the end of the 2010-11 school year
  • Of the 187 schools remaining open 52 made AYP in one or both subjects and 135 did not make AYP in either subject.

These scores come on the heels of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s announcement that he’s overriding the No Child Left Behind requirement that 100 percent of students be proficient in math and reading by 2014. States that have adopted their own testing and accountability programs and are making other strides toward better schools will be able to apply for a waiver.