In case you missed it, Bill Turque's Sunday Washington Post piece "Huge Achievement Gaps Persist in DC Schools" outlines the deep divide evident in this year's DC CAS scores. East of the Anacostia River, students "who represent nearly a third of the city’s traditional public school enrollment " scores showed minimal improvement overall. For instance, "In Ward 8 elementary schools, 28 percent of students read at proficiency level or better, down about 2 percentage points from 2010. That level is almost identical to the pass rate in 2007, when then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) took control of the city school system." DC Council Chairman, Kwame Brown had this to say about the disappointing results, "we have a great deal of work to do in order to build the schools that our students deserve."
But it's not all bad news. Despite the fact that "figures showed DCPS elementary scores remaining essentially flat", many public charter schools' results ticked upward. Check out this image taken from our School Quality Dashboard (filtered by state test scores with higher proficiency, higher growth and both highlighted):
See all the green dots? Those are representative of public charter schools; the orange dots represent traditional public schools. Now look to the right side of the map, or the east side of the city. Almost all schools east of the Capitol (minus schools on the hill) that are classified as "higher proficiency" or "higher growth" are public charter schools. There are only four exceptions: two that are magnet schools and one that is academically selective. Many public charter schools in Wards 7 and 8 are outperforming their traditional public school counterparts.
2011 DC CAS results provide more evidence that the public charter school formula is positively affecting education outcomes for DC kids. Public charter schools are highly accountable, but still given the freedom to innovate to meet the needs of their students. And it's working. In fact, as Bill Turque added, "the data on school system performance in Wards 7 and 8 also form a striking contrast to the record of some public charter schools in those communities, where pass rates this year were comparable to top schools elsewhere in the city. Elementary students at Achievement Prep in Ward 8, for example, scored 87 percent proficient or better in math and 60 percent in reading."
We at FOCUS (Friends of Choice in Urban Schools) believe that public charter schools are helping reform education in DC. That's why we're committed to advocating for public charter schools to support quality education choices for all DC students. Will you join us?