Education Opinion

DC goes up! (But we’re still not off the ground)

By Jessica Shyu — July 10, 2008 1 min read
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Michelle Rhee: “It’s a testament to what kids can do. I believe the children in the District of Columbia can achieve at high levels.”

Good news and bad news. Good news first.

Following the gains shown on state assessments in New York City, Philadelphia, Richmond and Dallas, Washington, D.C., announced that it too has made significant gains.

Math proficiency increased among elementary students by 11 percentage points, compared to 3 percentage points in 2007. Reading scores for those student increased by 8 percentage points compared to one point a year ago. Among secondary students, reading and math both increased by 9 percentage points versus 1 and 4 points, respectively, in 2007.

Now the bad news.

“Despite the improvement, District students still have a long way to go. The percentage of students in traditional public schools who reach proficiency is low. In elementary schools, 46 percent of students were considered proficient in reading and 40 percent in math. In secondary schools, 39 percent were proficient in reading and 36 percent in math. In many of the region’s school systems, which take a different test, the percentage of students reaching proficiency is twice as high.” -- The Washington Post

It’s true. It’s sad. No matter how you cut it, the reality is, the District of Columbia is at the very bottom in terms of academic achievement compared to every other state.

But there’s good news again. DC has an AMAZING number of people dedicated to closing the achievement gap at every stage. It’s not to say that other cities or regions don’t have the same, but over the past few weeks as I’ve transitioned from the Rio Grande Valley to Washington DC (continuing as a program director, but now with special ed teachers!) I meet, bump into, find, and get introduced to, whole schools, community organizers, administrators, teachers, families, nonprofits, students, and people from all walks of life and professions who are wholly dedicated to the vision Michelle Rhee articulated above. There’s a long way to go, but it’s heartening to know there are people turning bad news into action.

The opinions expressed in New Terrain are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.