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Despite Gains On Tests, D.C. Students Have Furthest To Go

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as The Nation's Report Card, finds that D.C. students show more growth than any state — but they also have the furthest to go.

The U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calls the improvement in NAEP scores for 4th and 8th graders across the country modest. But D.C.'s five- to seven-point increases on math and reading — on a 500-point test — are a remarkable story.

"Given all the doubters, all the naysayers, all the people who said it wouldn't be done or couldn't be done or that progress would stop, this is irrefutable evidence quite to the contrary, the pace of change is speeding up, its accelerating here in D.C.," he said on Thursday.

But while the District is ahead of states in terms of growth, it's only fair to point out that D.C. ranks worst in the nation in terms of overall scores. Just 23 and 28 percent of 4th graders are what's called proficient or above in reading and math. At the 8th grade level it's worse — not even 20 percent of students are proficient or higher in either subject.

Jack Buckley, a commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, says there's also a substantial black-white gap. "White students on average in 8th grade outperform black students by 54 points, in math its 56 points. D.C. gaps are close to double what we see in the nation on average," he explains.

But Buckley says D.C. is on the right trajectory — he says you can't get from the bottom to the middle overnight, and that doing so will take time.


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