“We need to make sure the kids who have the least, who don’t have parents who can take them to France or Yosemite on summer break, who can’t afford a computer . . . get the most resources and schools in Cleveland Park, frankly, get less,” she said.
D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said the study was not a surprise because the scores tracked with the District’s data. The city is planning a “robust” set of interventions, including a new curriculum and better teacher training, she said.
“We believe we have put the pieces in place to radically change these results and close the gap,” she said.
The District’s racial achievement gap is long-standing.
But it’s difficult to say whether that gap has changed over time relative to that in the other cities because for much of the past decade, there haven’t been enough white students in the District taking the test to reliably draw conclusions, according to the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the test.
There are 46,191 students in the District’s public schools, with about 79 percent African American, 12 percent Hispanic, 7 percent white and 2 percent self-declared “other.”
The new study did not include test scores of students who attend D.C. public charter schools, which educate about 40 percent of the city’s public schoolchildren. An analysis of the test scores of D.C. public charter students this year showed that black students attending charters scored higher in math and reading tests in the fourth and eighth grades than did their counterparts in traditional District schools. The number of white students attending public charters in the District was too small to draw comparisons.
Overall, the District placed at or near the bottom of the 21 cities in the study in scores for math and reading in the fourth and eighth grades; Washington tied with Detroit for last place in eighth-grade reading.
The school systems that consistently scored at the top of the heap were Charlotte, which was either No. 1 or 2 in every category; Hillsborough County, Fla.; and Austin.
Staff writer Bill Turque contributed to this report.