Regarding the Jan. 7 Metro article “TV show looks at Rhee’s legacy”:
Given questions about the validity of scores on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System standardized test, the federal government’s independently administered National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) provides an objective yardstick to measure D.C. students’ progress while Michelle A. Rhee was schools chancellor. The NAEP data show that, while students indeed made gains from 2007 to 2011, all of the meaningful gains were among students not from low-income families (those ineligible for the school lunch program) rather than among the economically neediest D.C. students, whom Ms. Rhee often emphasizes publicly.
Compare the NAEP results for that period for eighth-graders in D.C. public schools:
●In 2011, only 6 percent of low-income students were at least proficient in mathematics. While this was up from 2 percent in 2007, it remained in the single digits, a level that Ms. Rhee dismissed as dismal when she took over. Similarly, for the 2011 NAEP reading scores, the proportion of low-income students who were at least proficient was also a single-digit 7 percent, up only 3 percentage points from 2007.
●By contrast, 35 percent of students from middle- and upper-class families were at least proficient in mathematics in 2011, up 18 percentage points from 2007. In reading, 34 percent of these students were at least proficient in 2011, up 11 percentage points from 2007.
The achievement gains under Ms. Rhee amounted to a tale of two cities: one of near-stagnation for the District’s low-income students, at the bottom of the achievement ladder, and another of progress for everyone else.
Alan Ginsburg, Washington
The writer was director of policy and program studies at the U.S. Education Department from 2002 to 2010.