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Mayor Bowser Announces the District’s Public Schools as the Fastest Improving in the Nation

Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Mayor Celebrates NAEP Results at the Launch of a New Homebuyer Program for Public School Teachers and Staff

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bower announced that based on the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the District is the fastest improving state in the nation and DC Public Schools (DCPS) is the fastest improving urban school district in the nation. Mayor Bowser announced the results at the launch of a new homebuyer program with Landed, a financial services organization, that will offer DC’s public school teachers and staff guidance and financial assistance in purchasing a home.

“Just over a decade ago, our community made a commitment to invest in our public schools. Since then, the renaissance of our schools has been the driving force behind the renaissance of our city. Across all eight wards, students are engaged in rigorous and joyful lessons and programming, and our educators, coaches, and staff are committed to excellence and equity,” said Mayor Bowser. “We became and remained the fastest improving state in the nation by investing in our educators and by making our public schools a top priority citywide. Today, in launching this new tool that will help our educators live in the city they serve, we keep those investments and that commitment going.”

Landed’s new homebuyer education program supports teachers, school administrators, and staff in DC Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter schools in becoming homeowners by providing a personalized team that includes a partner agent and a Landed home buying expert. Landed also provides down payment assistance towards a home through its shared equity down payment program. The down payment program provides up to $120,000 to help educators get to a 20% down payment, with no income restrictions.

“Mayor Bowser’s goal of achieving 36,000 units by 2025 also includes creating more pathways to homeownership,” said Interim Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John J. Falcicchio. “The Landed homebuyer program provides an opportunity to keep DC affordable for workers and families across the income spectrum.”

NAEP tests proficiency in fourth and eighth grade reading and math and measures how states and jurisdictions across the nation are closing achievement gaps. On the 2019 assessment, the District showed significant gains in fourth grade math and eighth grade math and reading, making DC one of only two states to show significant progress in three of four subject/grade assessments. The District’s average NAEP scale scores for the fourth grade math assessment increased 3 points between 2017 and 2019, while average scale scores for the eighth grade reading and math assessments both increased 3 points. The District was the only state in the nation to show gains in eighth grade reading from 2017 to 2019, while 31 states showed a decline. Fourth grade reading scores in DC remained consistent with 2017 results, while 17 states showed declines over the two-year period.   

“As much of the nation either stayed flat or slipped behind, DC students continue to make steady progress,” said State Superintendent Hanseul Kang. “These positive results are a product of a set of important choices we made together across DC, and reflect the hard work of students, educators, and school leaders. These results are proof that when you set high expectations and stay the course, students will rise to the challenge.”

The District continues to close the gap with other states and jurisdictions. In fourth grade, the gap narrowed from 28 points in reading and 29 points in math in 2003 to 5 points in both subjects in 2019. In eighth grade, the gap narrowed from 23 points in reading and 33 points in math in 2003 to 12 points in both subjects in 2019. Since 2003, African American and Hispanic eighth graders in DC have completely closed a 12-point gap in math, setting the pace for the nation. Eighth grade students who are economically disadvantaged narrowed the gap from 23 points in 2003 to 9 points in 2019.

The results also show that the gap between African American fourth graders and their white peers has narrowed by 16 points in reading and 13 points in math since 2003; the gap between African American eighth graders and their white peers has narrowed by 12 points in reading and 14 points in math since 2005.

The District’s improved results come as, nationally, fourth grade reading and eighth grade math dropped 1 point and eighth grade reading dropped 3 points; only fourth grade math showed improvements nationally, with a 1 point increase from 2017 to 2019.

“I would like to thank our educators and staff for the work they do every day to provide our more than 51,000 students with a high-quality education,” said DCPS Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee. “From PARCC to NAEP, our students continue to demonstrate tremendous growth, and as we celebrate their achievements, my focus will be on the work we still need to do to close the opportunity gap.”

These new results also include DCPS’ scores on the TUDA, which specifically gauges math and reading skills for fourth and eighth graders in 27 participating urban school districts. DCPS’ TUDA results show statistically significant gains in three out of four subject/grade assessments. DCPS showed a +4 scale score gain in fourth grade math, +7 scale score gain in eighth grade math, and +5 scale score gain in eighth-grade reading from 2017 to 2019; fourth grade reading remained consistent with 2017 scores. DCPS was the only district that showed statistically significant gains in eighth-grade reading, while 11 jurisdictions showed a statistical decline; DCPS fourth grade math scale score performance now matches that of average large city performance.

NAEP is administered by the National Center for Education Statistics and is the largest nationally representative continuing assessment of what students in the United States know and can do in several subject areas. NAEP is commonly referred to as the “Nation’s Report Card,” and provides a clear picture of student academic progress over time. The NAEP release highlights statewide results for the District of Columbia that include DCPS students and public charter school students.

Additional information, along with complete results of “The Nation’s Report Card: Reading and Mathematics 2019,” is available for review and can be downloaded from DC’s results are available on OSSE’s NAEP page.