One in 10 D.C. Students Score ‘College Ready’ on New High School Math Test

Michael Alison Chandler, Washington Post, October 27, 2015

Just 10 percent of District students who took a new standardized Geometry test and 25 percent of students who took a new high school English test met proficiency standards designed to reflect whether they are on track to enter college or begin careers after graduation.

Results also show a stark achievement gap, with 52 percent of white students scoring proficient or better on the Geometry test, compared to 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 to 25 percent of Hispanic students and 20 percent of black students.

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The high school scores offer the first glimpse of how District students are performing on the Common Core academic standards, which were designed to increase the depth and rigor of what public school students are learning nationwide. The new tests, first administered last spring, are known as Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers–or PARCC–and were developed by a consortium of 11 states, including Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

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As anticipated, scores on the PARCC exam are far lower than recent scores on the DC CAS, the District’s previous standardized tests. Half of the city’s 10th graders were considered proficient in math, and nearly half–49 percent–of 10th graders were proficient in reading in spring 2014. In the first year of PARCC testing, the scores will not be used to label schools and are not supposed to count against teachers in annual evaluations.

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The new test has five performance levels, from 1 (did not meet expectations) to five (exceeded expectations). PARCC considers levels four and five to indicate students are “college and career ready.” In the District and most participating states, that’s the bar students must meet to be considered proficient.

Students were tested in English and Math in grades three through eight and once for each subject in high school. High school results are being released first. Scores for middle schools and elementary schools are expected to be released in the District in mid-November.

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