Twenty-five percent of the students in third grade through eighth grade in the District met or exceeded expectations on new standardized tests in English last spring, and 24 percent met a new benchmark on updated math tests, according to results released Monday by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.
Proficiency rates were much higher for white students in the District than for Hispanic and African American students.
White students had a proficiency rate of 79 percent in English and 70 percent in math. For Hispanic students, the proficiency rate was 21 percent in English and 22 percent in math. Black students had a 17 percent proficiency rate in both English and math.
“These results are sobering,” D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said in a statement. “But we know our students can meet the new, higher standard we set for ourselves.”
A little more than half of District students scored in the lowest two of five performance levels on both tests, demonstrating that they did not meet or only partially met expectations.
Scores were particularly low for special-education students, who had a 4 percent proficiency rate on both tests.
The scores offer a look at how District students are performing on the Common Core State Standards, designed to increase the depth and rigor of what the nation’s public school students are learning. The updated standards began to roll out in 2012 and have largely shaped the academic curriculum for the youngest test takers.
The new tests, first administered last spring, are known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exams — or PARCC — and were developed by a consortium of 11 states, including Maryland, and the District.
D.C. officials called it a more honest look at how students are performing compared with the city’s former test, the DC CAS, on which 54 percent of students scored proficient in math and 50 percent in English in 2014.
The benchmark for proficiency on the new test is designed to align with skills students need to be considered “on track” for college-level work or a career upon high school graduation.
Results for elementary and middle school students were released about a month after results for the city’s high school students, which showed that just 10 percent of District students who took a new geometry test and 25 percent of students who took the new high school English test met proficiency standards.
The achievement gap also was stark in high school, with 52 percent of white students scoring proficient or better on the geometry test, compared with 8 percent of Hispanic students and 4 percent of black students. Eighty-two percent of white students met the college-ready target in English, compared with 25 percent of Hispanic students and 20 percent of black students.
District officials said they are optimistic that scores will improve over time because younger students scored better than high school students overall.
On the math test, 50 percent of third- through eighth-grade students scored 3 or better on a 5-point scale, compared with 34 percent of the high school test takers.
The strongest scores were in the earliest grades: 30 percent of third-graders scored a 4 or better, compared with 21 percent of sixth-graders.
Middle school scores were the lowest, though students in accelerated classes, who took algebra or geometry tests, had higher-than-average proficiency rates.
In English language arts, 49 percent of students scored a 3 or higher, compared with 42 percent of the high school test takers, but proficiency rates were more consistent across third through eighth grade.
Proficiency rates for students in charter and traditional schools were the same on the English test; a quarter of students met or exceeded expectations in both types of schools.
But charter students outperformed the city average in math, with 26 percent meeting the college-ready target, compared with 23 percent of students in traditional public schools.
Traditional schools also had more students score in the lowest level on both tests. In math, 24 percent of students in traditional schools performed on the first of five levels, compared with 16 percent of charter students. In English, 31 percent scored on the lowest level, compared with 22 percent of charter students.