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Councilman Catania's numbers on student academic progress do not compute

Yesterday D.C. Councilman David Catania had an editorial in the Washington Post refuting the column by Donald Graham which celebrated the academic advancement being made by students enrolled in D.C. public schools. Now don't get me wrong, I too have written about the huge gap between black and white students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress Test, but these results do not show, as the chairman of the council's education committee asserts, that the schools are not getting better. Let's take a look at the numbers.

For DCPS, fourth grade black math scores went from 212 in 2009 to 218 in 2013. For students qualifying for free or reduced lunch these results went from 210 to 217 for the same subject and years. In eighth grade math grades for black students have risen to 253 from 244 and for kids in poverty the score has gone from 243 in 2009 to 251 last year.

In regard to reading in the traditional schools fourth grade black students did show a slight decline from 2009 to 2013. These findings went from 195 to 192 and for low income kids the result essentially stayed the same at 193 in 2009 versus 192 in 2013. For eighth graders, however, the patten of improvement returned. For reading blacks saw their scores go up to 237 from 235 and for low income students the results went from 232 in 2009 to 237 in 2013.

The rise made by those attending charter schools was even more impressive. For fourth grade math between 2009 and 2013 black students results went to 225 from 215. For the same years poor students improved from 213 to 225. In eighth grade black student scored 254 in 2009 compared to 269 in 2013. For those in poverty the measure went from 252 to 266.

In reading black fourth graders made 204 in 2009 and 197 in 2009. Low income student scores went form 195 to 201. In eighth grade black student results were 243 in 2009 compared to 250 in 2013. Low income scores climbed to 247 from 243.

In all, as the former owner of the Washington Post pointed out, things are looking up. The positive change has occurred because of the explosive growth of charter schools that generated competition for school children. The loss of students in the regular schools directly led to the Mayor taking over DCPS and appointing Michelle Rhee as Chancellor who was has now been succeeded by Kaya Henderson. The CityBridge Foundation has been supporting these reforms throughout.

Mr. Catania's main contribution to all of this has been to belittle the work of Ms. Henderson and to reinsert the Council into running the traditional schools. In light of all the advancement that has been made, it is time for him to get out of the way.

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