DC Public Schools (DCPS) has set the ambitious goal of becoming the highest performing urban school district in the country and closing the achievement gaps that separate low-income students and students of color from their higher-income and white peers. Much progress has been made toward meeting that goal, but much works also remains.
Progress Has Been Made …
Student achievement has risen substantially over the past three years ...
- According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the gold standard of student assessment, DCPS has led urban school districts nationwide in growth among 4th graders since 2007.
- Since 2007, performance by both African-American students and low-income students at the secondary level has increased by double digits in reading and math in the District of Columbia’s state standardized exam (DC CAS).
… And the pieces are in place to ensure that there is a great teacher in every classroom.
- DCPS negotiated a landmark new teachers contract that allows DCPS to reward teachers for outstanding performance and emphasizes quality over seniority.
- DCPS launched a rigorous new teacher evaluation system, IMPACT, which provides teachers with clear expectations for performance and constructive feedback throughout each school year.
- In 2007, only 12 percent of DCPS 8th graders were reading at grade level, yet nearly 95 percent of all teachers in DCPS were rated “meets expectations” or higher. In 2010, teachers received ratings under IMPACT that were far more meaningful, with 16 percent of teachers earning ratings of “highly effective.”
… But Work Remains
Overall student performance remains low ...
- Despite the rapid growth, DCPS is still one of the lowest performers among all urban school districts on NAEP in both reading and math at grades 4 and 8.
- Fewer than 45 percent of elementary and secondary students scored at proficient and advanced levels in reading and math on DC CAS in 2010.
- A wide achievement gap still remains between white students and their African-American and Hispanic peers.
... And DCPS still has much to do to ensure effective teaching in every classroom, in every school.
- While many students are in classrooms being led by “highly effective” and “effective” educators, too many are not.
- DCPS must continue to implement a rigorous performance evaluation system, maintain robust professional development supports, and enforce the consequences — separating low performers, rewarding excellence, and retaining high performers.