PARCC Results Released in DC

I just got back from watching the public release of the results of the PARCC test that students in Washington DC took about 7 months ago.

(Let that sink in: it took the testing company, and their consultants, and the city’s consultants, over HALF A YEAR to massage the data into a releasable form. So much for having these tests be able to be used to ‘inform instruction’ or help teachers figure out what kind of help their students need. It’s now the last day of November, and the students have been in school since August. What kind of help is that to teachers or parents? And tho I haven’t looked at the released school scores or samples of what the teachers will see, I’m not optimistic. If the past is any guide, the scores themselves will be essentially useless as well…)

(It won’t take so long next time, we were assured…)

I got to see Mayor Bowser, Councilman Grosso, Chancellor Kaya Henderson, [powerless] Superintendent Hanseul Kang, and Deputy Mayor for Education Jenny Niles, and charter honcho Scott Pearson perform and answer some mostly-lame questions from some members of the media.

What we saw were that advanced students in DC (largely white ones) do exceedingly well on this PARCC battery of tests, and that others (blacks; hispanics; SPEDs; students on free or reduced lunch; ELLs; or Students At Risk) do much worse. Which of course is  the very same result we’ve seen on the NAEP for a couple of decades.

In fact, of all the cities and states measured on the NAEP, Washington DC has the very widest gaps in test scores between the Upper Caucasia Haves and the Have-Nots everywhere else, and those gaps are if anything getting wider.

It was interesting to hear Henderson’s defenses of the results, which still showed very low percentages of most students “passing” the PARCC. She said, among other things, that

(1) since students at the lower grades generally scored higher than those at the upper grades, that show’s we are on the right path [seems to me it shows the exact opposite; the longer that students have been exposed to “Reform”, the worse they do… and

(2) It takes a long time, you can’t just expect to turn a switch and have everything be wonderful overnight, we need lots of wrap-around services and a longer school day and school year and support for teachers.

Regarding the latter excuse: isn’t that exactly what teachers were condemned for saying under Chancellor Rhee, whose understudy was none other than Kaya Henderson? Didn’t Rhee imply that the only reason that poor students did poorly in school was that their greedy, lazy teachers, empowered by their evil union, refused to teach them anything? And that anybody who said that it’s a lot harder to teach impoverished students of color with chaotic families (if any) than it is to teach middle-class children with educated parents – why those people were just making excuses for poverty?

 

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. They’ve had 8 years to get their scat together. Hasn’t happened and won’t happen. Live by data…die by data. Still around though. Next solution please…

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  2. Guy, the actual percentages speak volumes and so I think its important to lay them out. Only 25% of DC high school students overall are on track to college readiness. Only 10% overall are proficient in geometry. Just 4% of special ed students met proficiency as college ready. Just 4% of Black students are proficient in geometry. While 82% of white high school students are career and college ready, just 20% of Black students and 25% of Hispanic students are. The achievement gap is widening. This after eight years of “reform.” Why isn’t the narrative that the reform strategies aren’t working? The fact is that under Clifford Janey and Paul Vance, the rate of improvement on NAEP was greater than in the last 8 years. Why does the press allow Kaya Henderson to get away with lines like “reform just takes time.” Why is no one suggesting that perhaps the wrong strategies have been used?

    Granted, the new test is harder, and lower proficiency scores were expected, but there is just no indication based on test score data that DC is on a track toward great improvement at all, at least for students in poverty and for African American and Hispanic students. Wasn’t that the justification for Mayoral control and autocratic reform?

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