The Washington Post’s Michael Alison Chandler reports today that DCPS Chancellor Kay Henderson, in her second State of D.C. Public Schools address on Tuesday, spoke about the tremendous progress being made across the traditional school system:
“Henderson described many investments that the city is making in the school system. This year, she said, middle schools have extra funding for counselors, psychologists and enrichment opportunities. And more schools are rolling out blended learning programs, in which students spend part of the day learning on computers.
About two dozen schools adopted a longer school-day schedule, she said, and the city has invested an extra $5 million in making schools more fun, through extracurricular activities, arts, more sports and field trips.
Henderson emphasized the steady gains the schools have made on national and local standardized tests and acknowledged the magnitude of work that remains to be done.”
Yes, academically there is much work to be done, especially in comparison to the charter sector that educates 44% of all public school students in this town. Taking a look at the 2014 DC CAS results we see that in math 50.9% of students are proficient in DCPS, compared to 59.6% in charters. Much of this rate is being driven by white students. The math proficiency rate is 92.2% in DCPS for these pupils and 91% in charters for the same group. But these numbers hide a tremendous difference in these measures for African American and economically disadvantaged kids. For DCPS the proficiency rate in math for African American pupils is 40.8% compared to 57.3% for these students in charters. For economically disadvantaged children 40.9% are proficient in DCPS for math compared to 57.3% in charters.
A similar pattern exists when it comes to reading. The overall proficiency rates are 47.7% for DCPS and 53.4% for charters. For white students the numbers are 91.6% in the regular schools and 93.9% in charters. For African American pupils the reading proficiency rate is 38.5% in DCPS and 50.5% in charters. For those on the low end of the economic scale the DCPS reading proficiency rate is 38.5% while for charters it is 49.1%.
It appears that there is clear evidence that for those young people that school reform was meant to help, African American and low income students, charters are leading the way to steady academic gains. Perhaps Ms. Henderson should take a look at what they are doing.