WAMU 88.5 : Metro Connection

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Gauging The Health Of The District's Schools

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D.C. school officials have a new plan to evaluate the performance of the city's charter schools.
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D.C. school officials have a new plan to evaluate the performance of the city's charter schools.

The latest results from the Nation's Report Card, a federal education study conducted every two years, have been released. And what's most striking in this year's findings is the large achievement gap between black and white students in D.C.'s public schools. The District's schools ranked the highest compared to other urban school districts, including Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia. WAMU education reporter Kavitha Cardoza talked to Metro Connection's Rebecca Sheir about the results. Following are highlights of their conversation.

Cardoza on why the District's achievement gap is so much higher than that of other cities: "I spoke with Michael Casserly with Council of the Great City Schools. He says this is definitely an issue city leaders need to address. But he says it's also not as simple as comparing a white score to a black score because it's also about income."

Cardoza on how D.C. students did this year, compared to the last time they were tested: "Sort of one step forward, one step backward. D.C.'s fourth and eighth graders improved slightly in math but their scores went down slightly in reading. And it's worth noting that charter schools aren't included in the study even though approximately 40 percent of children in the District attend charter schools."

Cardoza on how D.C. charters schools are doing under a new a three-tier system based on a 100-point scale: "Thirty percent of the schools received between 65 to 100 points and are considered the best charter schools in the District. Approximately half the schools fell into the second category, of 35 to 64 points, which means they met minimum overall standards. The lowest 20 percent are in the third tier, meaning they received 34 points and below. Four schools in that category received fewer than 20 points, which means the board may close them at the end of this academic year."

Listen to the full interview.

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