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D.C. Students Show Improvements In Math, Reading

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D.C. public school students have shown continued gains in math and reading since 2007.
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D.C. public school students have shown continued gains in math and reading since 2007.

Students at D.C.'s public and public charter schools showed continued improvements in math and reading over the last year, according to results from the city's annual standardized tests released today.

Overall proficiency at the schools increased by four percent from 2012 to 2013, rising above the 50 percent mark for the first time since the school system was put under mayoral control in 2007. Those gains were the strongest the school system has seen in the past six years.

The overall increase in math and reading proficiency over the last year—as measured by annual tests taken by students in grades 3-8 and 10 — stood at 3.8 percent for D.C. public schools and 3.9 percent for the growing charter sector, which enrolls 43 percent of the city's public school students.

"Thrilled" — "Excited" — "Big deal." That's how school leaders are describing the improved test scores. Emily Durso heads the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. She says the gains were across all tested subjects, all grade levels and all sub groups.

"Including economically disadvantaged, English language learners, special education and by race and gender," Durso said.

In D.C.'s public schools, math proficiency rose 3.6 percent to land at 49.5 percent in 2013; in 2007, by comparison, it was 27.9 percent. For charter schools, math proficiency rose 3.9 percent to 58.6 percent; in 2007, it was 39.4 percent.

Much the same held for reading: in D.C. public schools, proficiency went up four percent to 47.4 percent, while at charter schools it increased by 3.9 percent, landing at 53 percent.

Test results in science and composition also saw gains—1.4 percent in science and four percent in composition over the last year.

Proficiency gains were seen across all groups, though white and Asian American students still out-perform their black counterparts in math and reading. Just over 91 percent of white students are proficient in math, for example, while only 47 percent of black students are.

Of the 80,000 students enrolled in public and public charter schools, close to 33,000 took the test in April and May 2013. In 2012 cheating was reported at 11 schools, though in years prior it was said to have been more widespread. Since then, school officials say they have taken steps to ensure that no cheating occurs.

School officials stress that there's still a long way to go. Overall, only half of D.C. public school students can read and do math at grade level.

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