(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser announced that Washington, DC’s 2017 statewide results on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment show gains across almost all grade levels and subject areas for the second year in a row. In the District’s third year of administering the PARCC assessment, the percentage of students who scored at a level four or five, indicating that they are on track for the next grade level or on track to graduate high school prepared for success in college and/or a career, increased in both mathematics and English language arts (ELA). The Mayor was joined at the announcement by Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles, State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang, Chancellor of DC Public Schools (DCPS) Antwan Wilson, and Executive Director of the DC Public Charter School Board Scott Pearson.
“Students in our public schools continue to make noteworthy gains on PARCC, with a greater number of students each year demonstrating the problem-solving and critical thinking skills needed to be successful in college, their careers, and life,” said Mayor Bowser. “This year’s results show that we are moving in the right direction, and that we must continue to make critical investments in the people, programs, and initiatives that are accelerating education reform and helping all our students succeed. As students and educators across the city head back to school, these gains are an important and encouraging reminder that every day counts.”
The District has seen steady growth in scores since the PARCC assessment was first administered during the 2014-2015 school year. Overall, in the 2016-2017 school year, the percentage of students who scored at a level four or five increased by 4 percent in ELA and by 2 percent in math. Nearly all student groups improved, including: both males and females, students with disabilities, at-risk students, economically disadvantaged students, students experiencing homelessness, Black/African American students, and Hispanic/Latino students.
Additionally, specific groups of students outpaced state improvement. The percentage of Hispanic/Latino students scoring at a level four or five increased by 4 percent in both ELA and math; the percentage of economically disadvantaged students scoring at a level four or five increased by 5.3 percent in ELA and 3.8 percent in math; and the percentage of English learner students scoring at a level four or five increased by 2.7 percent in math.
At the same time that the number of students scoring at a level four or five increased, the overall number of students scoring at the lowest levels also decreased, with the percentage of students scoring at levels one and two decreasing by 3 percent in both math and ELA.
“In the third year of PARCC administration, more students across the city are performing at the highest levels. We are incredibly proud of the hard work and determination by students and educators that is leading to sustained growth across the state,” said Superintendent Kang. “We are particularly pleased that more students are moving out of scoring at the lowest levels of PARCC and intend to keep up that momentum by supporting our schools as they prepare all students for college and career readiness and bright futures.”
The PARCC assessment, administered in the spring of each school year, measures students’ performance in math and English language arts in grades 3-8 and high school. The test has five performance levels, with level four indicating that a student met expectations, level five indicating that a student exceeded expectations, and level three indicating that a student approached expectations. Schools will receive individual student reports in early September. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education has prepared a suite of resources, available at osse.dc.gov/parcc, that will help parents and teachers use the scores to increase student achievement.
The Mayor announced the PARCC results while at the ribbon cutting for the fully modernized Watkins Elementary School in Ward 6. In school year 2016-2017, Watkins Elementary saw significant gains in both math and ELA on the PARCC assessment. The Department of General Services, in partnership with DC Public Schools, worked with the Watkins community throughout the design and construction of the $44 million modernization project, which included a 26,338 square-foot addition that consists of new administrative spaces, an outdoor classroom, a state-of-the-art media center, and a new cafeteria and gym. The modernized building also has more flexible classrooms with new technology, furniture, and HVAC systems. The average classroom in the modernized building is 35 percent larger than the old classrooms.
During her visit to Watkins, Mayor Bowser also launched Every Day Counts!, a citywide effort to increase attendance at the District’s public and public charter schools. More than 18,000 students – almost one in four – in the District of Columbia are chronically absent, meaning they miss 10 percent or more of all school days. Every Day Counts! includes a public awareness campaign to ensure students and families have access to the resources they need to overcome barriers to attendance.
“Just missing one or two days a month can set our students back academically,” said Deputy Mayor Niles. “I’m excited to partner with our government agencies, schools, and community partners to empower students and families to overcome barriers to attendance. Every Day Counts! is about getting out the right messages, rewarding progress, and working together to support every child and family in the District.”
By sixth grade, missing 10 percent of the school year is strongly linked to dropping out of high school. Together, Mayor Bowser and the Every Day Counts! Task Force, spearheaded by the Deputy Mayor for Education, will increase coordination across public agencies and stakeholders, invest in data-driven strategies to increase attendance rates, and reward students and schools that improve attendance throughout the school year.