D.C. students saw growth in their Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) scores, but they still severely lag behind their counterparts around the country.
District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) pupils in 3rd grade through 12th improved two percent in English and three percent in math for the 2015-16 school year, according to the city’s Office of the State School Superintendent.
“The PARCC scores show us that our approach of helping great educators teach rigorous content is producing real results at many of our schools,” said outgoing schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “But there is no shortcut to the hard work of improving student outcomes.”
Benjamin Banneker High School in Ward 1 saw a significant increase with a 24 percent uptick in English and 30 percent in math.
“I’m thrilled that Banneker has made such gains on PARCC,” said Anita Berger, principal of Benjamin Banneker High School. “We already had great teachers and a great curriculum in place, but we were deliberate in our increased offering of AP courses, our emphasis on content mastery and relaying the importance of this exam to our students and families.”
Catharine Bellinger, director of Democrats for Education Reform DC, said it’s no surprise that the education system is improving, but there are still schools that need dire attention.
“Over a dozen public schools saw double-digit increases in proficiency rates on both English and math PARCC exams,” she said. “Regarding this progress, these fast-improving schools in both the DCPS and charter sectors show that kids of all backgrounds, from all neighborhoods can achieve at high levels with the right educational opportunities.”
The city’s most-improved public charter schools include KIPP DC: Quest Academy in Ward 7, Early Childhood Academy in Ward 8, KIPP DC: Heights Academy in Ward 8 and Friendship Chamberlain Elementary in Ward 6.
Some of the most-improved open-enrollment DCPS schools are Marie Reed ES in Ward 1, Thomson ES in Ward 2, Stanton ES in Ward 8 and Ketcham ES in Ward 8.
While some schools saw positive growth, others dropped in proficiency or stayed the same, including Kelly Miller Middle School, Washington Mathematics Science Technology High School, Smothers Elementary School, McKinley Middle School, Wheatley Education Campus in Northeast and Patterson Elementary School in Southwest.
“When we dig into the data, we see incredible promise — but we also see too many children across the District who don’t have access to education that unlocks their full potential,” Bellinger said. “Comparing this year’s results to last year’s shows a troubling trend. Thirty-three schools were below 10 percent proficiency in both reading and math two years in a row.
“This year alone, 69 schools had fewer than 10 percent of students proficient in at least one subject,” she said. “And most troubling, of the 33 schools under 10 percent proficient in both subjects, eight schools made zero progress — or even backslid — over the past year.
“We cannot in good conscience, as a city, consign thousands of students to languish in chronically low-performing schools when we know that school improvement is possible,” Bellinger said. “Improving and investing in these schools must be a major priority for the next chancellor.”
LaJoy Johnson-Law, a parent of a kindergarten student in Ward 8, said children in her community deserve better.
“It’s promising to see the District making progress overall, but as a Ward 8 parent, it’s heartbreaking to know that children in my community are being underserved,” she said. “Our babies have big dreams — but the reality of school quality in our ward is out of step with the aspirations of our kids.”