Analysis shows big gaps in D.C.’s NAEP gains

Michael Casserly is not a reporter, so he can’t be accused of “burying the lead,” newspaper parlance for failing to place what’s new and most significant at the beginning of a story. Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, a non-profit that provides research and other support to urban school systems, wrote an opinion piece for Sunday’s Post (“A Chancellor Up to the Challenge” ) supporting the nomination of Acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson for the permanent post. Henderson is scheduled to appear before D.C. Council on Thursday.

Casserly, also a strong supporter of Henderson’s predecessor, Michelle A. Rhee, walks through the signs of progress in the District, including increased enrollment and graduation rates, and impressive growth in fourth and eighth grade scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

But wedged into the seventh paragraph is this caveat:

“An analysis by my organization also indicates that the D.C. public schools score well below what one would expect statistically, compared with other cities with similar poverty, language, race, disability and family characteristics. Students show unusual difficulty reading and interpreting texts, evaluating and critiquing information, identifying appropriate measurement instruments, and solving problems involving geometric shapes. There is much more work to be done.”

Casserly says the full report will be available soon. It’s likely to generate a news story or two.

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.
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