This post has been updated.
District officials hailed the solid gains in math achievement by public and public charter students on the 2011 NAEP scores released Tuesday. They show D.C. among just four jurisdictions — along with Hawaii, New Mexico and Rhode Island--that saw increases in both 4th and 8th grade math since 2009.
But other numbers place the math results in a more sobering context. D.C. also has, by a wide margin, the nation’s highest proportion of 4th and 8th graders in the “below basic” category--and the lowest in proficient/advanced. Even allowing for the apples-to-oranges issue (comparing D.C., a city-state, to other states) the numbers are disturbing.
Forty percent of fourth graders are below basic, far behind Mississippi (28 percent) Louisiana (27 percent) California (26 percent) and Alabama (25 percent). Just 21 percent are proficient/advanced, again trailing Mississippi (25), Louisiana (26) and Alabama (28)
The numbers are worse in 8th grade with 52 percent below basic, again trailing Mississippi (42) Alabama (40) and Louisiana (37). The District is dead last in proficient/advanced (17 percent).
Reading (flagged by D.C. State Board of Education member Mary Lord) is the same story: 56 percent of fourth graders below basic. States with the next highest proportions are New Mexico (47) Mississippi and Louisiana (45) and California and Alaska (44). D.C. is again at the bottom in proficient/advanced (19 percent). Forty-nine percent of 8th graders read below basic, trailing Mississippi (35), Louisiana (34) New Mexico and West Virginia (32) and Alabama (31). Sixteen percent of D.C. 8th graders are proficient/advanced in reading..
Lord also pointed out that D.C. is one of seven states where the reading gap between low-and high-income students has actually widened since 2003, along with Colorado, Maine, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.