Progress or Not? WaPo says yes, keep Rhee + Fenty. I think they are spinning things.


An alert reader pointed out to me yesterday that the statistics in the following article are INCORRECT, because they pertain to a mixture of both regular DC public schools AND the charter schools. I am working to fix that, separate out both the public schools and the charter schools, and will report what I find out.

My apologies. GFB.

According to the editorial board of the Washington Post, Rhee and Fenty can do no wrong. Today’s lead editorial column has this gem:

“There also has been success in shrinking the achievement gap between white and minority students between 2007 and 2010 on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System. African American students in particular had success in closing the gap, with the most significant gains on the secondary level.”

I submit that those two sentences are almost pure spin, and not the truth.

The reality is that almost all of the progress in that regard happened between 2007 and 2008, before Rhee got around to firing hundreds of principals, and before IMPACT gave principals, in turn, a very easy way to get rid of teachers. And between 2009 and 2010, the gaps generally got a bit larger. And when you look at the magnitude of the gap, there has really been very little progress at all under Rhee.

I will go in order from 3rd grade up to 10th grade. Each graph and table gives you the difference between the percentage of white DCPS students ‘passing’ the DC-CAS and the percentage of black DCPS students ‘passing’ the DC-CAS. Under NCLB (the No Child Left Behind Law), “passing” is defined as scoring in either the ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ range on the DC-CAS test. These scores do NOT include charter schools.

In the 3rd grade, the gap between whites and blacks is now almost precisely the same as in 2007, and it got about 6 or 7 percentage points wider over the last school year:

In the 4th grade, the gap is now just about as large as it was in 2008.

In the 5th grade, the gap has been getting steadily wider (but not by much) since 2008, and the math gap got about 8 points wider in 2010, to its widest point since 2008.

In the 6th grade in math, we see our first case of an actual, steady narrowing of the black-white achievement gap. However, one could argue that this is canceled out by the fact that the reading gap for 6th graders is now, in 2010, even wider than it was in 2007.

In the 7th grade, the progress in closing the gap does appear to exist, but it’s not steady, and the gap widened a lot in math last year.

In the 8th grade, except for the first year improvement from 2007 to 2008, the graph almost looks like a mirror image of the one for the 7th grade.

And, finally, in the 10th grade, the swings in the math gap scores have been pretty large over the last 4 years. Up by 6 points the first year (bad), down by 17 points the next year (great), and up by 8 points the next year (bad). In Reading, a very small increase from ’09 to 2010 (bad).

Now, go back and look at all of those graphs again.

Published in: on August 24, 2010 at 4:38 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. For those of us outside the district, at least, the timeline here does get confusing. Rhee started in June 2007, so the “2007” tests were given when? Coming from a state that calls tests given in October 2009 the “2010” results, I don’t take anything for granted…


  2. Tom and Guy, go to and see my comment on the same subject to the wapo editorial.

    The 2007 scores are for the school year before she came. Only the ’08, ’09, ’10 scores were on her watch.

    Guy, I bet wapo used your analysis do write their spin, because the ’07 scores are crucial to their spin.


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