July 13, 2010
DCPS Secondary School Students Demonstrate Significant Gains for Third Consecutive Year
Test scores from all levels show significant improvement overall after three years of reform
| (202) 535-1096
WASHINGTON, DC –District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) secondary students showed unparalleled progress on both math and reading scores for a third consecutive year and test scores have dramatically improved overall across all measurable levels over the last three years of reforms, preliminary results of the 2010 District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS) tests released today showed.
In addition to solid increases in the numbers of students achieving grade-level proficiency over the past three years, the percentage of DCPS students scoring advanced has nearly doubled at both the elementary and secondary levels. During the same time period, the percentages of students scoring below basic have decreased.
In unveiling the test scores with Schools Chancellor Michele Rhee and Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said, “After three years of education reform, I am pleased that our school system continues to show progress. We have said from the beginning that long-term, sustainable reform is our ultimate goal, and the results show that while we are on the right track, we still have much work to be done. I am confident that our gains over the course of the reform are solid and steady, and that Chancellor Rhee and her team will continue to use this data to improve student achievement.”
“I am proud of the progress our students and teachers have made over the past three years, but as evidenced from the dip in elementary school scores this year, we still have a long way to go, ” said Chancellor Rhee. “We will use these results not only to measure progress but also to identify areas that need more attention.”
The annual assessment determines student proficiency rates in reading and math and whether schools have met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), as required by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act
Preliminary Reading and Math Proficiency Rates
On the 2010 DC CAS, District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS):
- 44.4% of elementary students in reading, down 4.4% from 2009
- 43.4% of elementary students in math, down 4.6% from 2009
- 43.3% of secondary students in reading, up 3.2% from 2009
- 43.7% of secondary students in math, up 4.1% from 2009
Significant Progress at the Secondary Level
The 2010 CAS results demonstrate significant growth at the secondary level. This growth is even more encouraging when considered in the context of the past three years. Each year, secondary students have improved, as shown in the graph below. Secondary students have improved an average of 14 percentage points in reading and 17 percentage points in math overall. This kind of steady, consistent growth indicates that reforms at the secondary level are taking hold and provide a solid foundation on which to build as the Chancellor completes planning and begins implementation of the secondary schools transformation plan.
“The gains in DC’s secondary grade level reading and math scores are both unusual and important,” said Michael Casserly, Executive Director of the Council of Great City Schools. “The results indicate that proficiency levels on the state test have risen 91.3 percent in math and 48.3 percent in reading—among the fastest in the nation. In fact, DC is the only one of the major cities to see double-digit growth in both their state reading and state math scores in secondary grades (7th, 8th and 10th) over the most recent three years. To date, most big city school districts continue to show only modest gains in math in the secondary grades and insignificant gains in reading, so DC’s improvements in this critical age group will be of substantial interest to other cities.”
Three-year Growth and Trends
Growth in Achievement
The growth over the past three years is undeniable. Today, DCPS students are reaching higher levels of proficiency in both reading and math in both elementary and secondary schools. Indeed, as shown by the graphic below, the story of student achievement since 2007 is undoubtedly one of upward trajectory.
Gains Across Subgroups
Virtually every subgroup is performing higher in 2010 than in 2007. In fact, many groups have experienced double-digit growth in proficiency levels since 2007. Black students and poor students at the secondary level have both increased by double-digits in both reading and math since 2007.
More Students Are Achieving Advanced Levels and Fewer Students Are at Below Basic
Across DCPS, more students are achieving at proficient and advanced levels when compared to 2007, as shown in the chart below. The percentage of DCPS students scoring advanced has nearly doubled at both the elementary and secondary levels. At the same time, fewer students are performing at a below basic level. In terms of reforming an entire system, this is particularly important as student achievement cannot be dramatically improved if significant numbers of students continue to score at basic and below basic levels.
DCPS is demonstrating progress on a number of fronts. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress/Trial Urban District Assessment (NAEP/TUDA), over the past two years, DCPS was the only district among major urban school districts to show statistically significant reading gains at both the fourth and eighth grade levels. DCPS students are outpacing the country in math growth, too, with 4th graders making the greatest gains of any district tested and 8th graders more than tripling the national average in gains.
At the same time, more students are graduating than in prior years. The graduation rate increased to 72 percent for students graduating in 2009. Compared to the previous year, 123 more DCPS students completed the first critical step necessary to pursue higher education, enter the workforce, and to ultimately have more options in life for success. More than half of DCPS high schools increased their graduation rates, with 10 out of 16 schools increasing at least 3 percentage points.
Perhaps the greatest indicator of a healthier school system is the fact that after decades of steep decline, enrollment has stabilized. Parents are voting with their feet and are demonstrating increased confidence in the school system. This year every eligible DC public school attracted applicants for the annual K-12 Out-of-Boundary, preschool, and pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) lotteries. Fourteen schools had waitlists for the first time. Ultimately, a record high of 5,219 families, representing an increase of 50 percent over 2009, expressed interest in DCPS programs located in all eight wards.
More Work to Be Done
Clearly, while DCPS has demonstrated increased student achievement since 2007, much more work is required in order to maintain the pace of reform. The results for middle and high school students are encouraging, while scores across elementary schools reflect a need to redouble efforts to ensure that instruction is robust enough to prepare students to achieve.
“In every case, we will analyze our results and move with a sense of urgency to improve,” said Chancellor Rhee. “In many schools, only minor adjustments are necessary, while in others we will implement more aggressive changes. I am excited that with the new contract we will have even more tools to use to keep the progress going, and we will. Most importantly, we will learn from the many schools that are succeeding and share those best practices across schools so that all students can succeed.”
Schools will have until July 23 to review their data for accuracy and report any concerns to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education through an appeals process. Final school level results will be made available in early August.
Over the next couple of months, school-level instructional teams supported by DCPS instructional superintendents, the Office of the Chief Academic Officer, and the Office of Data and Accountability will analyze these results and determine which improvements at the school and classroom level are necessary for the 2010-2011 school year. Using these results to demonstrate where improvement is needed, DCPS will take every opportunity to move more aggressively to ensure that reforms are working in every classroom and every grade, and that principals and teachers have the support and accountability mechanisms necessary to meet their objectives in raising student achievement.
Download the letter from Michelle Rhee to community members.
Download the fact sheet: How Students are Supported - One Size Does Not Fit All.
Download the fact sheet: DCPS on the Move: Three-year Growth and Trends.