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Charter schoolsí Stanford 9 scores both better, worse than DCPS scores

(Published September 6, 1999)


Staff Writer

Recently released Stanford-9 test scores for six charter schools overseen by the D.C. Public Charter School Board show that some charter school students performed better than students at traditional public schools, while other charter school students performed worse.

A direct comparison of scores is difficult, because D.C. Public Schools officials released scores by grade level while charter school scores were reported by school.

Among the charter schools reporting scores, the Edison-Friendship schools scored highest. At the Chamberlain campus in Southeast Washington, 30 percent of students in grades 1-5 scored in the lowest range, "below basic," in reading. Thirty four percent scored below basic in math.

About 47 percent scored at a "basic" performance level in reading and 42 percent scored basic in math, while 19 percent scored proficient in reading and 21 percent proficient in math.

The poorest scores came from the School for Arts in Learning, at 16th and L streets NW, where 82 percent of students in grades 1 and 2 scored below basic in reading and 81 percent scored below basic in math. Most of the students at the school have been identified as having special needs or being learning disabled. The scores are dramatically lower than those of similar-age students in the traditional public schools.

The SEED public charter school in Northeast, which enrolled only seventh graders, showed mixed results. SEED studentsí reading scores topped those of their DCPS peers citywide but math scores were markedly lower. In reading, 20 percent of SEED students scored below basic. Thatís lower than the 27 percent of seventh graders at traditional public schools citywide who scored below basic. At SEED, 57 percent scored basic in reading while at DCPS only about 48 percent scored basic. And while 23 percent of SEED students scored proficient in reading, only 20 percent of DCPS seventh graders scored as high.

In math, SEED students scored lower than average DCPS students their age. About 70 percent scored below basic, compared to about 64 percent of DCPS students. About the same percentage of students scored basic in both groups, about 27 percent. DCPS scores topped SEED in the proficient category. DCPS boasted 7 percent proficient while at SEED only 3 percent scored as high.

DCPS score reports are based on thousands of individual scores and a few very high or very low scores are not likely to effect the overall average. Since most charter schools are small, averages can be dramatically affected by a few individual scores.

Students at the Cesar Chavez charter school in Northwest also did better in reading than in math. The school enrolled ninth graders only. In reading, 51 percent scored below basic, 40 percent scored basic and 8 percent scored proficient. In math, however, 80 percent scored below basic, 18 percent scored basic and only 2 percent scored proficient. Both sets of scores are lower than those reported for ninth graders at traditional public schools citywide.

Among high school students at Maya Angelou charter school in Shaw, 44 percent scored below basic in reading while 52 percent scored basic. In math, 89 percent scored below basic and 7 percent scored basic. These scores are similar to scores reported for DCPS students in those grades

High school students at the Southwest Washington Math Science Technology charter school, formed in part by a breakaway group from Ballou Senior High School, scored significantly better than their DCPS peers in reading and math. Only 34 percent of the charter students scored below basic in reading, compared to 37, 51 and 48 percent of ninth, 10th and 11th graders at DCPS who scored as low. In math, only 42 percent of the charter students scored below basic, while 56, 80 and 75 percent of ninth, 10th and 11th graders, respectively, at DCPS who scored as low.

Stanford-9 test scores for charter schools under the purview of the D.C. Board of Education have not been made public.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator