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Data points to significant work ahead to support students’ academic achievement

Education Forward DC
Education Forward DC

Significantly fewer DC students are on track for college and career after more than two years of disrupted learning, according to the first citywide assessments administered since 2019.

The results released today by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) show an expected drop in academic achievement that aligns with emerging national data given the unprecedented academic, social, and emotional disruptions that students, families, and educators faced throughout the public health emergency. However, they highlight that the urgency to build a DC school system that prepares every student to thrive in life is greater than ever.

By the numbers

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) results found that proficiency levels dropped below pre-pandemic levels and that gaps between specific student groups have widened.

Overall 31 percent of students scored at the college- and career-ready level in English Language Arts (ELA) and 19 percent of students scored the same in Math, down six percentage points and 11 percentage points from before the pandemic, respectively. Among students considered “at-risk”, only 15 percent scored at the college- and career-ready in ELA and only 6 percent did so in Math.  You can see full summary comparisons in the table below.

DC 2022 PARCC Results (% of students scoring Level 4 and 5)

Group ELA (2022) Percentage point change since 2019 Math (2022) Percentage point change since 2019
All Students 30.7% -6.4 19.3% -11.2
At-Risk (citywide) 15.2% -5.9 6.1% -10.2
Students with Disabilities (citywide) 6.9% -1.1 4.7% -2.5
English Learners (citywide) 17.0% -2.7 12.5% -10.2
Black (citywide) 20.0% -7.8 9.0% -12.1
Hispanic (citywide) 30.5% -6.8 17.2% -13.3
White (citywide) 79.7% -5.3 70.2% -8.6

Read the full results on OSSE’s website

Ed Forward DC appreciates the tireless efforts of school leaders, teachers, students, and families across the city in navigating the difficulties of the past two and a half years. Without their resilience and persistence DC may have been faced with even more challenging results to address through the recovery.

First signs of recovery

There are signs that students, now back in classrooms, are making gains in growth and achievement. Ed Forward DC grantee EmpowerK12’s latest Unfinished Learning brief released last week found that students growth rates in key grades and subjects had returned to pre-pandemic levels this past spring. Additionally, student wellbeing index scores also significantly improved.

But students furthest from opportunity still need even greater support to ensure they are as prepared as their peers to realize their own visions for success. Second semester growth rates were slower for students designated as at-risk, students with disabilities, and English language learners. Students designated as at-risk are an average of 15-18 instructional months behind, while students who are not at-risk are about 4-5 months behind pre-pandemic national averages.

Read EmpowerK12’s full Unfinished Learning brief here

A strategy for thriving students

These assessments establish a baseline for the DC schools recovery Ed Forward DC is planning to support over the next few years. The results highlight significant gaps between where we are today and our aspiration that every student in DC is prepared to achieve economic success, power, and autonomy in their lives. In particular, the results confirm the need for us to remain focused on those students who are furthest from opportunity. We know DC’s education leaders are already thinking about how we do that.

We hope you will join us in this work. We’re excited to bring together policymakers, educators, nonprofit leaders, and others who are concerned about educational equity in DC at the second event in our Better Than Before series on October 3rd at the MLK Jr. Memorial Library to breakdown the latest PARCC results and other data to get a fuller picture of how students—especially those furthest from opportunity—are doing academically and what we can do to build exceptional schools through DC’s COVID recovery.

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Education Forward DC
Education Forward DC

Every DC student deserves to thrive.