D.C.'s public schools have the largest achievement gap between black and white students in the U.S., more than twice the average gap seen in other large cities. Those figures come from a 2011 federal education study commonly referred to as the "Nation's Report Card."
The difference in academic performance between black and white students in DCPS is stark. At the 4th-grade level in math, the gap is 60 points, and in reading it's 64. In cities including Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia, the gap is closer to 20.
But Michael Casserly with Council of the Great City Schools says it isn't just about race, it's also about income.
"You're comparing white students in wealthier sections of town who are among the height," he says. "As a matter of fact they perform over national averages with much poorer African American students in D.C. public schools."
Alternatively, in a place like Cleveland, the white-black gap is much narrower because low income white students are compared with low income black students, Casserly explains.
Compared to the 2009 results, the average DCPS score in both reading and math was lower than the average score for public school students in large cities across the U.S. D.C. 4th and 8th graders in the District improved slightly in math, but their scores went down slightly in reading.
Charter schools were not included in the study. Approximately 40 percent of children in the District attend charter schools.