District Test Scores Show Improvement for City Students – and How Far There Still Is to Go

School test scores in the District of Columbia show just over one-fourth of city students are on grade level for career or college -- a slight increase from the year before, and significantly better than several years ago.

Those results are from the city's standardized test, called PARCC, for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. It measures college and career readiness in math and English.

Despite the improvements, schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said much more needs to be done.

"If you are a crow, right, you think you're flying high because you're in a barnyard full of turkeys. Right?" said Henderson, who leaves her post next month after almost six years in charge of the District's schools. 

"But there are eagles soaring way above and that's where we need to get to."

Henderson's good-humored description didn't disguise the tough job in the schools for teachers and administrators in a city with most students eligbile for food and other aid.


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"They are taking students and families that have been misserved and disserved and have been super far behind, and holding them to a very high standard," Henderson said.

That's a reality faced every day by Anita Berger, the principal for 13 years at Banneker High, where Henderson and Mayor Muriel Bowser held a press conference Tuesday to announce the test scores.

"I've seen a lot," Berger said, who joined Banneker as a teacher. "I've seen the city go from one end to the other end in terms of spectrum. I know where we've come from, but we still have a lot of work to do."

"Children will meet a standard, if in fact that standard is set," Berger said.

Charter schools, which account for nearly half the school age population, did better than traditional public schools.

"Well, I think overall we've seen the scores move in the right direction," said Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Bowser is beginning the search for a new chancellor. She said she's looking for someone to build on the initial progress of Henderson and the current school system.

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