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Posted at 12:34 PM ET, 08/04/2011

Test scores show momentum for charters

The school-by-school 2011 DC CAS data released Tuesday tell a more revealing story than the aggregate numbers reported last month. Those figures showed DCPS elementary scores remaining essentially flat, with public charter schools producing modest but notable gains.

The school-level numbers sharpen the picture. While DCPS still shows more growth across the last five years, charters produced the more encouraging results in 2011.

Forty-four of the 76 charter campuses (58 percent) tested registered improvement in at least one category (reading or math). My reading of the DCPS data shows just 47 of 123 schools (38 percent) in the same bucket. Another 42 DCPS schools lost ground in both reading and math, with ten suffering double-digit declines in the percentage of students who pass.

Among the big elementary charter successes are Achievement Prep in Ward 8, where 87 percent of students scored proficient or better in math and 60 percent in reading. That surpasses any traditional public elementary school in Ward 8--even though Achievement Prep’s reading score dropped 18 percentage points from 2010. Same for Two Rivers in Ward 6, which reached 78 percent in reading and 68 in math.

(Note: Scores are expressed as the percentage of students who pass, meaning they reached proficient or better.)

Two public charter high schools in Ward 8, KIPP D.C. College Prep (77 in reading, 92 in math) and Thurgood Marshall Academy (67 in reading, 75 in math), bested not only all D.C. high schools east of the river but the city’s top open enrollment high school, Woodrow Wilson (66 in reading and 52 in math) in Ward 3.

At the middle school level, DC Prep’s Edgewood campus in Ward 5 reached 92 in math, better than any of the top three DCPS middle schools, Deal (Ward 3), Hardy (Ward 2) and Hobson (Ward 6). Washington Latin Middle School (Ward 4), at 83.9, is in a virtual tie with Deal (83.4) for the highest reading pass rate.

There were some positive signs on the DCPS side. Twenty-six schools showed gains in both reading and math. Two high schools--Ellington (Ward 2) and Phelps (Ward 5)--and Columbia Heights (Ward 1) and Francis-Stevens (Ward 2) education campuses produced double-digit growth in both categories. Bruce-Monroe Elementary at Park View (Ward 1) which has struggled to implement Singapore math, produced a 20-point bump in math scores. There is also some daylight at Hart Middle School in Ward 8, which saw gains of eight points in reading and 14 in math.

But some schools continue to post abysmal numbers. At Stanton Elementary in Ward 8, where DCPS brought in Philadelphia charter organization Scholar Academies as an operator, scores were in single digits in reading (9 percent). They didn’t have far to drop, since proficiency was 13 percent in 2010. Only 9 percent of the 135 Stanton students tested were proficient or better in math, essentially unchanged from 2010. Scholar Academies, incidentally, has received authorization to open a charter school in Ward 8 in 2012.

Also in the single-digit club is Garfield Elementary (Ward 8) where 8 percent of students read proficient or better, down from 19 percent in 2010, and 6 percent passed math, down from16 in 2010.

Other schools took significant tumbles. At Coolidge HS (Ward 4), run by Friends of Bedford under contract with the city, scores fell sharply (math by 17 points, reading by 15 points). Math scores at Houston Elementary in Ward 8 dropped 35 points, to 21 percent. At Ferebee-Hope Elementary (Ward 8) where the principal resigned in the middle of the year, math and reading both fell by 20 points, bringing reading proficiency to 11 percent and math to 12 percent.

Chancellor Kaya Henderson is out until Monday and was not available for comment. D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) said in a statement:

“When I see a school that had only 16 percent of its students scoring proficient in reading last year, and then that same school went down to 6 percent (referring to Garfield) that’s absolutely shocking. I hope that everyone in this city looks at this data very carefully – I know that I am – and is reminded that we have a great deal of work to do in order to build the schools that our students deserve.”

By  |  12:34 PM ET, 08/04/2011

 
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