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D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson called the newly released results of the PARCC tests administered to local students in grades 3 through 8 “sobering” in a statement.
Similar to their older peers, who took geometry and English exams, fewer than 30 percent of such students were considered “proficient and on-track” for their academic and professional futures in English language-arts and math, meaning they scored at least a four out of five on their assessments. Across both public and public charter schools, 24 percent of students “met or exceeded” expectations in math, while 25 percent of students did the same in English; 26 and 24 percent “approached expectations” within those respective categories.
“With the new baseline set by these PARCC results, we will work to ensure that these scores improve each year by continuing our strategic investments and working with our community,” Henderson added.
The PARCC, or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, assessments are notably more difficult than previous exams, designed to measure critical-thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills. This is the first year D.C. schools have required their students to take them, too. The metrics follow the release of National Assessment of Educational Progress scores, also in October; D.C. was one of a few jurisdictions to see jumps in fourth-grade math and reading scores. The NAEP represented the “fifth time in a row [D.C.’s] scores have increased overall,” a Post op-ed explained.
Still, the elementary and middle school PARCC results “show a significant gap between white students and other demographic subgroups,” according to the Office of the State Superintendent. “On the math assessment, 70 percent of white students met or exceeded expectations; 17 percent of black students and 22 percent of Hispanic/Latino met or exceeded expectations,” the office says. “On the [English] assessment, 79 percent of white students met or exceeded expectations; 17 percent of black students and 21 percent of Hispanic/Latino students met or exceeded expectations.”
You can dig into the data for yourself here.
Update 1:42 p.m.: In a statement, Democrats for Education Reform D.C. Director Catharine Bellinger says “this year’s scores show that we are not yet where we need to be to provide every child in every neighborhood with a high-quality education” but points out “bright spots within the data”: schools that serve students from economically disadvantaged areas that nonetheless reported PARCC scores “significantly above the [D.C.] average.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery. Charts via OSSE and DCPS