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A growing achievement gap in DC calls for a new deal

Education Forward DC
Education Forward DC

Margie Yeager is a Partner with our Advocacy grant making team.

A new report from EmpowerK12 finds that the achievement gap is growing in DC and that DC students are facing a “COVID” learning slide. (Education Forward DC is a funder of EmpowerK12 and funded this report.)

According to the study, DC students have lost four months of learning in math and one month in reading with more startling results for students furthest from opportunities: At-risk* students have lost five months of learning in math and four months of learning in reading.

The COVID learning slide also affects DC’s youngest learners, with the study finding that reading proficiency is down 12 percent for students in kindergarten through 2nd grade. Students who faced the greatest drop in proficiency are students who live East of the River.

Consider that many white students in grades K – 2 made reading gains during COVID, while Black students in grades K-2 saw decreases in reading. White students’ reading proficiency is up nearly 25 percent, while Black students’ reading proficiency is down 16 percent over the same period. Students living West of the River, made a 12 percent gain, while students living East of the River made a nearly 19 percent drop.

A new deal for education

The Education Forward DC team is focused on charting a new path for our students — one that focuses on recovering lost learning for students and envisions a city that upends deep-rooted racial inequities.

We need a new deal for DC education: a focus on increased funding to reverse the COVID learning slide with bold ideas to reverse the growing achievement gap.

That work begins with:

  • Listening to families, students, and the community, who know what makes a great school.
  • Supporting our school leaders, who are working tirelessly to ensure school happens during COVID.
  • Doubling down on data to begin to understand and unravel the patterns of racial inequity.
  • Advocating for increased funding and bold ideas that puts the students facing the greatest challenges at the center of every and all policies and initiatives.

DC never needed more public servants, educators, and advocates working to create a better schooling experience for them. 

*At-risk is defined as students who receive TANF or SNAP benefits, experience homelessness, are in foster care, or are more than two years behind, if in high school.

Education Forward DC
Education Forward DC

Every DC student deserves to thrive.