District students make gains on test scores


The District’s public and charter school students improved their math and reading skills in the past year, but more than half remain below proficiency, according to standardized test results released Monday.

About 47 percent of the city’s students in grades three through eight and high school sophomores achieved proficiency in math, up six points from 2008 and 16 points from 2007. In reading, 47 percent of students reached proficiency, up three points from 2008 and 10 points from 2007.

D.C. public school students made gains on last year’s standardized test scores, but not enough to bring even half of them to math and reading proficiency.

D.C. PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Elementary reading 2009; Reading 2008; Math 2009; Math 2008
49 percent; 46 percent; 49 percent; 41 percent

Secondary reading 2009; Reading 2008; Math 2009; Math 2008
41 percent; 39 percent; 40 percent; 37 percent

D.C. PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS
Elementary reading 2009; Reading 2008; Math 2009; Math 2008

46 percent; 45 percent; 42 percent; 42 percent

Secondary reading 2009; Reading 2008; Math 2009; Math 2008
53 percent; 47 percent; 57 percent; 48 percentDespite student gains, only 34 of the city’s 126 regular public schools achieved “adequate yearly progress” under the No Child Left Behind law, down from about 45 schools last year. Schools officials attributed the decline to the fact that many schools started this year with higher baselines due to significant gains made in 2007-08.

The higher the baseline, the more difficult it is to show improvement levels called for under the law.

The persistent failure of schools to meet their targets opens an opportunity for Rhee to make sweeping changes, such as staffing overhauling staffing or closing schools altogether. Individual school data will be available later in the summer, after teachers and administrators have had a chance to review it.

Those decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, Rhee said. “Some schools may have made progress, just not enough to meet the new target.” A breakdown of student progress shows that the greatest elementary school gains were made at traditional public schools, while charter schools soared at the middle and high school level.

“It may be evidence that the longer kids stay in charter schools, the better they do,” said Barnaby Towns, spokesman for the pro-charter group Friends of Choice in Urban Schools. Towns pointed out, too, that while elementary charters performed worse than traditional schools, charters don¹t exist in the city¹s wealthiest neighborhoods.

Student progress within the city’s traditional schools jumped in reading and math for both elementary and secondary students, but not as dramatically as the jumps between 2007 and 2008. But Rhee, who took charge of the school system in 2007, said that increasingly smaller gains should not be expected.

“Last year we picked some low-hanging fruit,” she said, adding that this year saw unique challenges such as newly consolidated schools and changes to the administration of the test for special needs students.

“Despite those challenges, we¹re pleased to continue seeing significant growth.”

lfabel@washingtonexaminer.com

Source: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/District-students-make-gains-on-test-scores-50685052.html

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