DCPS Achievement Gap Blamed on Officials, Demographics, Lack of Funding
Dorothy Rowley | 12/29/2011, 4:23 p.m.
Goldstein also concluded that while Rhee failed to significantly narrow achievement gaps, the gaps would be less disturbing if overall achievement levels were moderate or high.
"But what we continue to see in D.C. is that white students score well above both national and urban district averages for their race; [and that] black, Hispanic and poor children score well below national averages for their races and classes," Goldstein wrote.
Michael Casserly, executive director for the District of Columbia-based Council of Great City Schools, said although widening of the gap has not been a good sign, he's optimistic about what Henderson has done to close it. On the other hand, Casserly said he has yet to understand why the gap widened in the first place.
"You see these numbers bounced around a little bit, but you can't say they're [directly] attributed to testing cycles," Casserly told The Washington Informer. "[The numbers] move a little bit sometimes and it's hard to explain. However, in this case, [there's been a ] widening of the gap over one testing cycle, and I'm not clear what that means . . . you certainly don't want the numbers -- wide as they are -- to get any worse."
Mary Filardo, executive director of the 21st Century School Fund in D.C. also said DCPS's progress has not been "close to" what's been expected.
"I think part of what's also going on in the District in terms of the gap is there has been a huge influx of students from affluent families in the system," Filardo said. "So what's being seen now -- as in the upper Northwest schools in Ward 3-- are [students in the DCPS system] who come from neighborhoods of some of the highest educated people on the planet."
Commenting on the impact for black students who've been attending DCPS facilities for the past 10 years, "it's been horrendous," said Filardo, alluding to inequity in funding surrounding spending per student.
"Right now in the District of Columbia, there is no extra funding [for students] who come into DCPS schools from low-income families," said Filardo. "So a wealthy family on the high end of that achievement gap, and a child whose family is in the most distressed financial condition, get the same amount per student from the city -- and that's wrong."
To that end, Filardo said part of what's caused the achievement gap, "is that we have not had a system of funding in D.C. that has really done what it needed to do to make sure that the kids who need the most help are getting it."