It’s D.C. CAS time, and Jefferson Academy has done it again.
Last spring in the runup to the city’s springtime standardized test, students at the Southwest D.C. middle school spent countless hours working after class with seventh-grade math teacher Greg Dohmann to produce “Rock that CAS,” an unforgettable music video parody of “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore.
And Jefferson students made good on that promise, posting double-digit gains in math and reading. Seventh-graders did particularly well.
This year, Dohmann took students back to the future with a reinterpretation of one of 1990’s biggest hits: “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice. The music video features flashbacks in time and cameo appearances by Principal Natalie Gordon, Chancellor Kaya Henderson and a certain star of a certain television series set in Washington.
And the lyrics are not to be missed:
Alright stop, we demand your attention
Jeff is back with improved comprehension
Something makes our scores go up highly
Watch as we go from advanced to almighty
Of the project’s four student co-stars, two had heard of Vanilla Ice before making the video, said Dohmann, who sees the music videos as about much more than testing — they’re also a way to connect with students and build school spirit.
The music video premiered Friday at a schoolwide pep rally meant to get the middle-schoolers — who wore blue t-shirts pronouncing Jefferson the “birthplace of the smartest” — pumped for next week’s exams.
Schools across the city hold similar pep rallies and make similar videos, an effort to help get students excited about doing well on a test that means little for their futures but has far-reaching implications for teachers, principals and schools.
This is the last year for the D.C. CAS — next year, it will be replaced by a new test meant to measure students’ performance on the Common Core State Standards.