Barry Upset Over Low Student Test Scores

WI Web Staff Report | 7/18/2011, 1:29 a.m.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry has expressed dismay in the wake of a preliminary report that details low test scores for students enrolled in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) system.

Recently released results from the 2011 District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS), show that in comparison to previous scores, education reform -- over the past five years -- has "miserably failed" low-income communities, according to a statement from Barry's office.

"I am very supportive of Mayor [Vincent]Gray and Chancellor [Kaya] Henderson, but you cannot be supportive of the dismal test scores we receive, year after year, that clearly reflect that thousands of African-American boys and girls are being short-changed and sentenced to a life of poverty, jail, and death," Barry said.

The DC CAS math and reading tests are administered each year to test proficiency in grades 3 to 8 and 10. The latest results demonstrate average elementary reading scores of 43 percent and math scores at 42.3 percent -- meaning that not quite half of elementary school students are performing at or above grade level, despite the mayoral takeover of DCPS facilities in 2007, Barry's office reported.

Although school-specific results for 2011 have yet to be released, last year elementary school students in Ward 8 were performing at significantly low levels -- well below 35 percent proficiency in math and reading, with some schools as low as 14 percent.

At the high school level, the results were the same: In Ward 8, Anacostia and Ballou senior high school students are scoring at the same low rates as the elementary school student, according to Barry's office. In other low-income communities across the city, such as in Wards 5 and 7, high school students were performing at the same rates as in Ward 8 high schools - approximately 18 percent-25 percent. While elementary schools in those communities fair slightly better than students in Ward 8, few are at the District wide average.

"This is a tragedy," Barry said. "If the average test scores across the city for 2011 are this poor, I am beyond certain that the scores of the students in my ward are significantly lower," he continued. "If this type of increase continues, by the time these students reach high school, more than half of will still be performing below grade level. This is not educational reform. This is educational failure."