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New Joint Report Outlines Academic and Discipline Trends in Public Schools in DC

Tuesday, December 10, 2013
District of Columbia School Equity Reports Include Clear, Transparent City-Wide Comparisons Across Sectors

Washington, D.C. — Agencies responsible for public education in the District of Columbia today announced the release of the first-ever District of Columbia School Equity Reports. The reports, supported by the non-profit education innovation organization NewSchools Venture Fund, focus on the retention, discipline, academic growth and achievement of all students and moves the District closer to having a complete and transparent view, using the same metrics, of how different public schools serve a range of students.

The education agencies and offices -- the DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB), DC Public Schools (DCPS), the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and the Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) -- worked to align a variety of data among public schools and public charter schools so the report could feature comparable metrics for all public schools in the city, including:

  •  A school’s demographic profile;
  • The percentage of students with disabilities;
  • Performance on state assessments disaggregated by student group (African American, Hispanic, White, special education, English language learners, and others);
  • In-seat attendance rate and unexcused absence rate;
  • Student expulsion rates;
  • Student suspension rates disaggregated by subgroup; and
  • Month by month rate of student entry and withdrawal throughout the 2012-13 school year.

Highlights from the citywide results show that of the 80,230 public school students in school year 12-13, the in-seat attendance rate for the city is 95%. About 8% of those students accumulate 25 days or more of unexcused absences over the course of the school year, while 43% of the students are absent without an excuse between 1 and 5 times.  On student discipline, there were a total of 187 expulsions for a city-wide rate of 0.22%. Citywide, about 12 percent of all students received an out-of-school suspension for one day or more. The full report is available here. Individual school results are available from OSSE at Learn DC, on the PCSB website and each DCPS school’s profile page.

The reports show in detail the gaps in achievement and disparity in suspension rates between different groups of children.  But the school-by-school reports also show schools – both charter and DCPS – that have narrowed or even closed black-white achievement gaps, schools who have achieved proficiency rates with students with disabilities that exceed citywide averages for all students, and schools with few or no out-of-school suspensions.

“Schools seeking to improve their practice do not need to look beyond District boundaries for examples to learn from.   I’m proud of the 109 individual public charter schools that worked to align metrics with our DCPS colleagues so that parents and the public have valid information to compare school and student performance,” said PCSB Executive Director Scott Pearson.  “This first-ever Equity Report shows a strong, viable sector of public charter schools that are achieving strong results while serving a student population that mirrors the District.”

"Coupled with our school profiles pages, these new reports empower parents with accurate, reliable information to help them make the right choices for their students,” said Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “I want parents to look to us to provide the transparent, robust, comparable data we know they often need. I’m proud of these reports and glad we can provide another tool to inform the community.”

“As the District's population continues to grow and more families are choosing to enroll their children in D.C.'s public education system, it is vital that we equip our parents with a uniform set of metrics when searching for the best fit for their children as they navigate the myriad public school options," said Acting Superintendent of Education Jesús Aguirre. "In partnership with government and public organizations, our goal is to empower District families with reliable information and tools to improve their children's educational outcomes; and this first-ever equity report will serve to assist us in achieving that purpose."

"The Equity Reports ensure that parents, policy makers, and all education stakeholders have access to consistent data on how our public schools – both DCPS and charter – are serving all of our students," said Abigail Smith, Deputy Mayor for Education. "The Mayor and I are particularly pleased with the level of collaboration across DCPS and public charter schools that these reports demonstrate."

The reports were made possible in part by the generous support from NewSchools Venture Fund. “These groundbreaking equity reports demonstrate the deep commitment of DC’s education agencies to creating a public education system that serves all students well,” said Maura Marino, Managing Director, NewSchools Venture Fund. “They serve as a model for other cities, not only in the breadth of information provided, but through the collaboration between DME, DCPS, OSSE and PCSB that made them possible.”