DC Not Tracking Every Student's Progress, Scathing New Report Says


A scathing new report from the D.C. auditor finds that the District is not tracking the progress of every public school student.

At a time when so many students are in danger of falling behind due to the pandemic, the auditor warns this type of tracking is more important now than ever.

For years, District leaders have touted DCPS as one of the fastest-improving urban school systems in the nation. But this report calls into question the District's ability to collect that data.

D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson says the District has received tens of millions of dollars from the federal government to develop a data system.

"We do not have the kind of sophisticated data collection that we bargained for when we applied for the federal grants," Patterson said.

Patterson's report compares D.C. to states such as Montana, which has a streamlined system for tracking students' progress toward graduation, and Arkansas, which tracks teacher diversity.

"We don’t collect data on courses. We can't tell you what courses students take, across our sectors, across our schools," Patterson said. "... We only collect teacher demographics, little bits of teacher demographics, and not across all of our schools. So we're not even collecting the data that we need."

In a statement to News4, D.C.'s deputy mayor for education, Paul Kihn, disputed the auditor's findings, saying, "The District collects more than 100 million public education data points annually ... from birth to adulthood ... and now has access to longitudinal, student-level data from across the education continuum, from birth to adulthood."

The statement continued, "Most importantly, schools report that they are using this information in new and important ways to improve service to students."

Patterson tells News4 that the collection of data is meaningless if it's not reliable and used properly. She fears D.C. Public Schools aren't adequately tracking students who have been distance learning for the past year and may be falling behind.

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