District students in grades 3 through 8 and 10 this week will be taking the high-stakes D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System, or D.C. CAS. Results of the test, required by the federal No Child Left Behind law, will determine whether the 140 schools across the city are deemed to have made adequate yearly progress.
The law establishes dire consequences for schools that repeatedly fail to make AYP. Currently, 27 schools across the city are in "restructuring" for failing to make academic targets for five consecutive years. Chancellor Michelle Rhee is in the process of determining what actions to take against the schools. Her options include hiring nonprofit education groups to run them, converting them to charter schools, turning them over to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, replacing staff or trying something else.
So to ensure students are at their best to take the tests, the school system over the last few months has enrolled low-achieving students in Saturday courses. And it has sent some local sports and political figures in to encourage students to do their best.
Local celebrities visiting the schools have included Washington Nationals' left fielder Elijah Dukes and center and right fielder Lastings Milledge; Mystics' center Gillian Goring; D.C. United's Marc Burch; and D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D).
"They gave the students a pep talk about the importance of participating, getting a good breakfast, getting plenty of sleep so they can be prepared for the test," Rhee's spokeswoman Mafara Hobson told D.C. Wire today.
Meanwhile, Rhee tomorrow and next week will meet with parents of 10 high schools in restructuring, soliciting their ideas on what she should do to overhaul instruction. Rhee has been talking with six nonprofit organizations about the possibility of hiring them to help run some of the 10 high schools.
Tomorrow's meeting will be at Bell Multicultural High School, 3101 16th St. NW and the April 29 meeting will be at Anacostia High School, 1601 16th St. SE. Both meetings will run from 5 to 6:30 p.m.