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D.C. Schools Improve, But Still Have Long Road Ahead

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By Kavitha Cardoza

D.C.'s traditional public schools have shown dramatic improvements in the past five years, that's according to a new report by the Washington Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

But there is still lots left to do before D.C. catches up to neighboring suburban school districts.

A 2005 report by the same organization used words such as "deplorable" and "substandard" to describe DCPS. Five years later, those have mostly changed to "impressive" and "unprecedented."

Ron Flagg who oversaw the study says teacher salaries are now competitive with surrounding jurisdictions, test scores have generally increased and special education services have been revamped. Dozens of school buildings have been renovated and nurses now use computers to manage student health information.

But Flagg is quick to qualify the improvement.

"While we've made wonderful progress in the last several years, it's fragile progress," says Flagg.

The report also finds principals' salaries, funding for athletic programs and courses such as foreign languages and music programs continue to lag behind surrounding school districts.

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