Test scores show significant improvements for D.C. schools

This morning, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced the results of the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System tests (CAS) – and the results are encouraging. Traditional public school students posted the highest scores ever this year, which also represent the biggest single-year improvement since 2008. Charter students posted even better average scores and made their biggest gains since 2009.

Despite these positive gains, however, the numbers are still alarmingly low. There’s much more work to be done (WaPo, 7/30):

In traditional schools, 49.5 percent of students scored proficient or advanced in math on the 2013 exams, an increase of more than three percentage points from the year before. The proficiency rate in reading, which had been flat for several years, rose four points to 47.4 percent.

Charter school students showed similar improvement in 2013, with 58.6 percent scoring proficient or above in math and 53 percent scoring that high in reading — gains of nearly four percentage points in both subjects from the year before.

EDUCATION | Yesterday, we had a provocative op-ed about philanthropy from Peter Buffett. Prepare to be provoked again! Today, five Republican senators, lead by Sen. Rand Paul, published a piece in the Huffington Post about school choice. It’s worth a read, particularly since D.C. is highlighted as a model of success. Of course, today’s positive CAS results put a wrinkle in some of their points. (HuffPo, 7/30)

Choice breeds competition — which is the best way to improve schools. It creates a powerful incentive for schools to get better, while at the same time creating much-needed options for children trapped in less than satisfactory schools. That is exactly what we see when public charter schools are allowed to expand.

In Washington, D.C., the 41 percent of students who attend charter schools learn the equivalent of 72 days more in reading and 101 days more in math each year than similar students attending district schools, according to a Stanford University study.

– We recently posted about the organizations on either side of the Bi-County Parkway debate. Today, the Washington Post reports on a grassroots advocacy effort led by local residents. (WaPo, 7/30)

– Here’s a great interview with local icon Jose Andres. Read through to page two for his thoughts on philanthropy. (Forbes, 7/29)

TRANSIT | Leggett Remains ‘Optimistic’ About Silver Spring Transit Center (WAMU, 7/30) Following the interview, Leggett probably ran away yelling, “Opposite day!”

I know what you’re all thinking. “Why doesn’t Christian post more about space in the Daily?” Well, I’ve read your minds and I want to share something especially cool today. NASA posted video of solid rocket boosters getting the shuttle into space…and then tumbling 150,000 feet back down into the ocean.

And for something more terrestrial, here’s a summery song from Michael Franti – I’m Alive. It’s the lead single from his new album All People, which came out today and is a lot of fun.