DCPS Progress Report for 2008-2009
What We Have Accomplished Together
The transformation of District of Columbia Public Schools – from one of the lowest-achieving school systems in the United States to a world-class example of public education – began in 2007 with
promising results. Our mission is to educate all children, and our 2008-2009 school-year results show progress.
Students from every demographic group across the District made significant academic gains. We are moving towards our goal where race, economic class, special needs status, and English language learning status no longer define our students’ future opportunities.
Our accomplishments include the following: (1) our students made substantial academic gains across demographic groups across the District; (2) we continued to focus on improving teaching; (3) we
continued to foster existing, and implemented new, innovative programs to help students and their families; (4) we improved our technology resources; and (5) we increased our efficiency.
We are creating a school system in which our community can take pride.
However, while we must take stock of our accomplishments, we must also recognize that we have a long way to go before we are giving all of our students the education they deserve, and before all students are reaching their full potential. We will not slow down until we succeed.
Four Selected Headlines:
1. Our students made substantial academic gains across demographic groups and across the District.
Students Outpaced The Nation With Gains On National Math Tests
- DCPS students made dramatic gains that outpaced the nation in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math testing.
- The District had the greatest gains of any state in 4th grade math;
- DC fourth graders were the only ones in the country to report increases for every subgroup of students from 2007 to 2009;
- The District was one of only five states to show increases in math for both fourth and eighth grades. The others were Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont; and
- DC eighth graders tripled the national average in gains.
- The test results are especially encouraging knowing that NAEP is a gold-standard assessment administered from the outside that is not aligned to the DC CAS test our students prepare for in schools.
Students Made Substantial Gains In Their DC CAS Scores
The July 2009 District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System (DC-CAS) scores reaffirm our students’ progress. Specifically:
- 49% of elementary students are proficient in reading – up from 38% in 2007;
- 48% of elementary students are proficient in math – up from 29% in 2007;
- 40% of secondary students are proficient in reading – up from 30% in 2007; and
- 40% of secondary students are proficient in math – up from 27% in 2007.
Students’ Achievement Gaps Closed Across All Grade Levels And Students Proficiency Rates Increased For Virtually Every Subgroup
For example, we cut the gap between African-American and White secondary math students by 20 percentage points – down from 70% to 50% after just two years of reform. In addition:
- The achievement gap for elementary students narrowed six percentage points in math and six percentage points in reading;
- Special education, English-language learners, and economically-disadvantaged students made double-digit gains;
- English-language learning students built upon their 2008 gains with over half of all elementary students performing at grade-level in reading and math; and
- Economically disadvantaged elementary students have increased math proficiency rates by 17 points and reading proficiency rates by 9 points, with one-third of secondary students now performing at grade-level in math and reading.
2. We continued to focus on serving teachers’ needs to develop their professional practices.
Input From DCPS Teachers Continues To Drive Reform
Throughout the year, over 500 DCPS teachers participated in informal meetings and discussions with Chancellor Rhee. All teachers were invited to attend these regularly scheduled, open-ended listening
sessions that took place at the central office and in schools around the District. Teachers shared their concerns, desires for professional development, thoughts on performance assessment, classroom needs, and more.
In addition, the Teachers Central to Leadership Fellowship Program brought six DCPS teachers to the central office during the summer of 2009 to work in key positions and to share their wisdom and perspective with the central office. Both of these initiatives will continue in the 2009-2010 school year.
Clear Standards Set Expectations For What Constitutes “Good Teaching”
With input from DCPS teachers, we created the Teaching and Learning Framework to define for all what constitutes good teaching, and to set clear expectations for effective, standards-based instruction. The Framework also aligns DCPS professional development with the agency’s overarching goals to provide all teachers with the necessary support to deliver on these expectations.
We Invested Greatly In Our Teachers And Their Professional Development
We quadrupled the investment in teacher and principal professional development, increased professional-development investment from $3.7 million in FY 07 to $11.1 million in FY 08, to $28.6
million for FY 09. We also created, hired, and placed 188 instructional coaches to support teachers at the school level to improve effectiveness, and to increase daily student achievement.
New Leadership Energizes 77 Schools
Fifty new principals hired in 2008-2009 brought leadership, energized school communities, and supported new achievement levels. The 2009-2010 school year opened with an additional 27 new principals.
3. We implemented new, innovative programs and continued existing ones that strengthen our students’ academic achievement.
BURST: Reading, an early literacy intervention, was launched with 889 students at 37 elementary schools.
This program assesses student reading levels then provides specific lessons and materials designed for those who need literacy help. Students who have completed 10 targeted lessons show clear progress.
DIBELS was introduced into Schools to Better Measure Student Performance.
Through the measurement technology, Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), teachers used the DIBELS hand-held devices to frequently measure students’ progress and then adjust their instruction accordingly to target the needs of individual students. As a result, 15,500 students in grades K-3 in 72 elementary schools improved.
We Expanded the Schoolwide Application Model (SAM) from 8 to 16 elementary schools.
This school model focuses on fully integrating and coordinating resources to improve academic and social outcomes for all students. All students, including students with disabilities, benefit from this model by receiving the support they need to excel. A full-time Academic Instructional Coach at each SAM school supports teachers’ efforts to individualize instruction through flexible groups and peer pairing.
New Discipline Code Established With Input From Students And Many Community Members
We reviewed, researched, and rewrote the Discipline Code to better reflect DCPS’s belief in student success and achievement. Community consultation guided the entire process and gave DC citizens a voice in the new policies. The Discipline Code recognizes and encourages students who exhibit appropriate, non-disruptive behavior with prevention and intervention strategies for those who do not.
It maximizes learning time and puts a high value on positive, respectful relationships among staff and students.
DCPS Leads The Country In Afterschool Reform
Full-time, dedicated afterschool coordinators in nearly every school began to manage the critical work of afterschool programming beginning in 2008-2009, planning and overseeing a robust and responsible set of afterschool activities, including attention to academics that serve all children.
4. In partnership with the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization,
improvements to our schools’ facilities support better teaching and learning.
During the 2008-2009 school year, DCPS successfully:
- Opened six fully modernized schools;
- Partnered with the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization to modernize schools in Wards 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 enabling students to begin the 2009-2010 school year in completely modernized school facilities that enhanced the classroom environment and allowed for more focused learning;
- Upgraded 11 pre-kindergarten classrooms with new furnishings and/or facilities enhancements to provide an improved learning environment;
- Installed new play sets and/or fields at 14 schools across the city. Wards 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 benefited from these improvements; and
- Upgraded health suites in nearly 50 schools over the summer break so that students now have the benefit of receiving health services in a modern environment.