D.C. school officials deserve credit for big leaps in scores on the Nation's Report Card, said Education Secretary Arne Duncan during a press conference Thursday.
The District of Columbia and Tennessee were the only state-level school systems that showed increases over the past two years in all subjects and grade levels.
Duncan said Thursday that "Chicken Little pundits" were wrong when they said Mayor Vincent Gray would turn his back on educational reforms set into motion by former Mayor Adrian Fenty, reported News4's Tom Sherwood.
Among those reforms, the District's rigorous teacher-accountability program is identifying "great talent" in the classroom, Duncan said.
The District uses student test scores, classroom observations and other factors to evaluate teachers. Those who are found to be ineffective can be fired, while teachers considered highly effective can receive pay raises and bonuses.
Despite the gains, District schools still lag behind the national average on the Nation's Report Card. And the gaps between the performance of white and black students are the largest in the nation.