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This year, D.C. public and charter school students will take an assessment exam aligned with Common Core Standards for the first time. Gone is the District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System, or DC CAS, used since 2006 to measure how students were performing in math and reading and later in science and composition.
While the tests were administered to children in the second to tenth grades, local education nonprofit DC Action for Children stresses the importance of scores for third-grade students. “Reading and math proficiency by the end of third grade can be a make-or-break benchmark in a child’s educational development,” the nonprofit said in a report. “If children do not achieve proficiency by the end of third grade, they are significantly less likely to graduate from high school.”
With that in mind, DC KIDS COUNT, a data project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation managed by DC Action for Children, recently mapped the District neighborhood clusters where third-grade students made the largest gains in reading between 2007 and 2014 and the areas that saw the largest decline. Turner Elementary School—a public school in the Douglas-Shipley Terrace cluster that saw a drop in reading proficiency—is one of several elementary schools where DCPS now employs an assistant principal of literacy and a reading specialist. Hours at Malcolm X Elementary School, located in the same low-performing cluster, and C.W. Harris in Marshall Heights, an area that saw a moderate decline, have been extended to provide additional instruction time in math and reading. The D.C. Public Charter School Board, meanwhile, plans to partner with the D.C. Public Library for a lending library pilot project aimed at improving student reading levels.
Map by DC Action for Children/DC KIDS COUNT