December 07, 2011

TUDA Report Shows Mixed Results for DCPS Students 

Growth in Grade 8 Math in Top 4 Nationwide; Reading Remains Area of Concern

Contact: Fred Lewis | (202) 442-5919

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A federal report that compares standardized test scores of students from 21 urban districts nationwide showed continued improvements for District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) fourth- and eighth-grade students in math and fourth-grade students in reading since 2007.

According to results from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress-Trial Urban Assessment District (NAEP TUDA) report released today by the U.S. Department of Education, DCPS fourth graders improved 3 scale points in reading and 8 scale points in math since 2007, when DC public schools were placed under the control of the Executive Office of the Mayor. DCPS eighth graders’ math scores dramatically improved by 12 scale points, while reading scores showed no change over 2007 results.

Compared to 2009, the last time students took the standardized NAEP test, DCPS’ 2011 results show slight increases in fourth- and eighth-grade math, and slight decreases in fourth- and eighth-grade reading. And, the percent of DCPS students scoring proficient or advanced increased across all grades and subjects since 2009.

NAEP SCALE SCORES SINCE 2009: DCPS math scores increase; reading results steady with nation

In her review of the TUDA data, DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson said she is encouraged by many of the results and feels strongly that DCPS is taking the right steps to address clear areas for improvement.  “Assessments set the bar for and measure progress against our mission of raising student achievement.  The most recent data reinforces our decision to aggressively improve interventions, expand and develop the level of instruction in our classrooms and, most important, aggressively implement a rigorous, new curriculum that is heavily focused on reading and literacy and also aligned to the Common Core State Standards.”

Chancellor Henderson also noted that 2011 NAEP TUDA scores appear to be consistent with results of the 2011 District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS), which showed solid improvement in secondary math and relatively constant scores in secondary reading, and reading and math at the elementary level over 2009. The NAEP exam is generally considered to be more rigorous than the CAS.   

Michael Casserly, executive director of the District-based Council of the Great City Schools, concurred noting, "The new NAEP data on the DC Public Schools further corroborate its DC CAS results, particularly at the secondary school level, and underscore the ramped-up efforts the school system's leadership is making to implement the common core standards and improve the quality of instruction in city classrooms."

TUDA analyzes the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), an exam administered by the federal government every two years, and offers the only true comparative assessments of urban school districts across the country. This year’s analysis reviewed scores from 21 urban school districts. Nearly all fourth graders and eighth graders in the District participate in the assessment. The DCPS sample includes 1,500 students in Grade 4 reading, 1,400 in Grade 4 math, and 1,300 students in Grade 8 reading and math.  

Compared to the other urban school districts included in the report, DCPS ranked 14 in Grade 4 reading and 17 in Grade 4 math; and ranked 20 in Grade 8 reading and 19 in Grade 8 math. In terms of growth among urban school districts, DCPS eighth graders have improved their math proficiency at a faster rate than all but three that participated – Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit.   

IN NEED OF IMPROVEMENT: Achievement gap and reading  

Achievement gaps among black and white students, as well as those among students who receive free lunch, a federal indicator of poverty, and those who do not, widened slightly and remain areas of concern, Chancellor Henderson said.

Since 2009, the achievement gap among black and white students in Grade 4 reading increased by 2.8 scale points and math by 2.3 scale points (the sample for Grade 8 white students was too small to report, so only Grade 4 gaps are displayed). The gap among students who receive free lunches and those who don’t increased by 8 scale points in Grade 4 reading and 5 scale points in Grade 4 math. In Grade 8, the gap increased by 1.4 scale points in reading but stayed constant in math.

Black and disabled students, however, were primarily responsible for driving improvements in Grade 8 math, Chancellor Henderson said, noting a five scale-point increase for black students and 14 scale-point increase for disabled students. Additionally, she noted the percentage of students scoring at proficient or advanced in all grade levels and subjects continues an upward trajectory since 2003 with only Grade 8 reading remaining constant.

Reading proficiency, which decreased on the DC CAS and NAEP, will remain an area of intense focus, said Chancellor Henderson.  On the NAEP, for example, 56 percent of Grade 4 students scored below basic in reading, an increase of 2 percentage points over 2009. In Grade 8, 54 percent scored below basic, also an increase of 2 percentage points over 2009. In the same time period, the percent of students who scored below basic in math decreased by 2 percentage points in Grade 4 and 4 percentage points in Grade 8.


Chancellor Henderson and her team will continue to analyze the results to determine specific strategies to improve performance district-wide. However, she noted changes in the classroom this year that will improve the quality of education DCPS provides for its students.

“This year DCPS launched a new academic plan in all of our classrooms that will increase rigor and have a positive impact on student achievement,” said Chancellor Henderson. “The plan serves as the roadmap to what students in each grade level and subject area should learn to be competitive in our city, our region, our country and the world. We are leveling the playing field across the city so that all children - no matter where they go to school - are learning the same materials and receiving the same level of instruction. And, we are providing more professional development and supports for our teachers than ever before to make sure our students get everything they need to succeed.” 

Inside DCPS Highlights.


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