DCPS Outlines Spending of Stimulus Funds for 2010 and 2011
What is at Stake
Two years ago, the problems of the District of Columbia Public Schools were so significant that many believed the system was beyond repair. According to the 2007 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), only eight percent of eighth graders were on grade level in math, and 12 percent were in reading. With achievement gaps between black and white students at 70 percent in some schools and subject areas, and over 50 percent district‐wide, many believed that students in Washington, DC just were not up to the task of learning.
Signs of Progress
Nothing could be further from the truth. In the past two years students of all backgrounds and circumstances have shown us through their academic growth that with the right supports from adults, they will learn to compete with any high‐achieving students in the suburbs and across the nation. On almost every measure we have, children in Washington, DC are defying stereotypes with their results and challenging all educators to raise expectations for all students.
Local Test (DC CAS)
On our local test, the DC CAS, in 2009 principals and teachers drove growth across all grade levels in both reading and math. In secondary math the achievement gap between African‐American and Caucasian students has closed by 20 percentage points. Virtually every subgroup under NCLB has increased proficiency rates, including students with special education needs, English Language Learners (ELL) and economically disadvantaged students.
Results from New Principals
Innovation and school leadership are also paying off. New principals with innovative strategies are outperforming the district as a whole, even with the district moving up in each level and subject in math and reading this year.
National Tests (NAEP/NAEP TUDA)
This progress is reflected on national tests as well. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a gold‐standard test administered from the outside, and according to data released in 2009, students are showing phenomenal growth whether DC is compared to other states (NAEP) or to other urban districts (NAEP/TUDA, Trial Urban Districts Assessment). When compared to other states in math, last year DC led the country in growth. DCPS had the greatest gains of any state in fourth grade math, and we were one of only five states to show increases in math for both grades: District of Columbia, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Our eighth graders grew at three times the national average, and fourth graders were the only group in the country to see gains in every subgroup, including African‐American students, students on free and reduced lunch, and English Language Learners (who are outperforming the district as a whole on our local test).
Students are also showing tremendous progress compared to other urban districts (NAEP/TUDA), where DCPS students ranked number one in growth for the first time and increasing math scores at a higher rate than any other tested urban district in the country. Both low‐income and Hispanic fourth grade students led the nation in gains as well, and black fourth graders achieved the second highest gains within tested TUDA districts. Eighth graders were close behind, coming in second only to San Diego in growth. DCPS has never grown at this rate in both fourth and eighth grade.
Competition for Charter Schools
The NAEP/Tuda also shows that in 2009 DCPS surpassed charter school performance in math. Two years ago we were 14 scale score points behind charter schools in eighth grade math, and this year we have a higher proficiency rate than charter schools at both the fourth and eighth grade levels.
The graduation rate is increasing at a faster rate compared to previous years, and in 2009 more than half of DCPS high schools increased their graduation rates, with 10 out of 16 high schools increasing by at least three percent. We are incredibly proud of the students, teachers, principals and staff who have worked tirelessly to achieve these results. However, we still have much work to do before DCPS overall performance will be competitive with the suburbs. With the help of stimulus funds we are moving toward this goal through an extremely difficult period for the country.
Enabling Reform in a Nationwide Recession: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act holds us to our most basic responsibility: to educate our children no matter what challenges we face as adults. Understanding that the rights of children to a quality education cannot be compromised, with stimulus support DCPS is better able to protect children from these very difficult times by protecting their education, the most powerful strategy for ensuring future prosperity.
In Washington, DC, even with significant two‐year gains we are still far from where we need to be. Less than half of our public school students are proficient in reading and math, so we have more to do than maintain performance through a recession. We are in the midst of a necessary and radical turnaround that has to continue in order to educate all children according to their rights and abilities. A turnaround of this magnitude requires a combination of innovation, aggressive reforms to correct the systemic dysfunctions and inequities that hold children back, and the implementation of the best practices that will continue momentum that is turning the tide in DCPS.
We must also maintain the ground gained last year by preserving the Comprehensive Staffing Model, a more equitable staffing model we implemented to allow all students access to art, music, and PE instruction, along with the counseling supports that mitigate obstacles to achievement. However, understanding that stimulus funds given as Title I dollars must adhere to the same rules that govern the spending of all federal Title I funding, we understand that stimulus funds cannot be used only to preserve staffing.
For FY ’10 and FY’11, we have divided the $75.65M of stimulus funds into four primary focus areas to continue this effort:
- Title I Funds to Support Innovation and Yield Academic Growth: $16.95M
- Title I Required Set‐Asides: $6.3M
- Reforming Special Education: IDEA Stimulus Funds, $13.1M
- State Stabilization to Preserve Jobs: Innovative Approaches to Increased Equity and Resources $39.3M
Download DCPS Plan for Federal Stimulus Funds in 2010.