Eighty-Three Percent Of D.C. Students Score Below “Proficient” In Reading and 81 Percent Are Below “Proficient” In Math

SchoolClassroomThe public schools in Washington, D.C. continue to set a record for per pupil costs in the nation. The District has long been the most expensive system in the country and reportedly spends roughly $30,000 per student in a system that continues to produce appalling results in national studies. The latest such study is by the respected National Center for Education Statistics which has found that in 2013 83 percent of the eighth graders in these schools were not “proficient” in reading and 81 percent were not “proficient” in math.

The only improvement is marginal at best. The percentage of students who performed at or above the NAEP Basic level was 57 percent in 2013. This percentage was greater than that in 2011 (51 percent) and in 1998 (44 percent). However, this is an extremely low level of performance and 43 percent are below even that level.

What is equally distressing is that this study went with virtually no mention in Washington. Indeed, the Washington Post gave more attention to the discarding of trash bins than this most recent educational data.

D.C. eighth graders scored an average of 248 out of 500 in reading. Mississippi finished next to last with an average of 253.

DC spends more than twice as other large cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and Dallas, though figures vary between studies and reports. The figure is derived from dividing total expenditures in Table 1 by enrollment in Table 15 of the Census Bureau statistics. The Census Bureau’s Table 11 puts the per capital costs for elementary schools at over $27,000 up to 2010. (note that this is a different calculation than Table 8 on per capita spending levels).

New York spends $5,353 less per student.

By the way, of that money, only $10,584 per pupil is spent on “instruction” and $1,613 on “instructional staff.”

Whatever the cost, the D.C. schools continue to fail and thousands of students are facing a dim future without basic skills to succeed. Many will be left to a cycle poverty where they lack the necessary skills to succeed in a new and more demanding job market. It is a chilling statistic that is measured in real terms in the lives of thousands of students.

These statistics are truly frightening. D.C. has a long reputation for wasteful and poorly managed systems. This low level of performance is even more striking when it is between two of the most successful school systems in the country: Montgomery (MD) and Fairfax Counties (VA). Clearly D.C. deals with a large number of impoverished students, but that does not explain this continuing failure of this system at such a high cost. Other cities have such impoverished areas and do far better with far less. The city seems to be continuing to discard thousands of students with the same level of care as its recent trash bin scandal. Yet, there remains no serious backlash against the city’s elected officials or demands for a fundamental change in the school system after decades of such poor performance.

588 thoughts on “Eighty-Three Percent Of D.C. Students Score Below “Proficient” In Reading and 81 Percent Are Below “Proficient” In Math”

  1. Ex post facto changes in law are unconstitutional for lawmakers.

    The Supreme Five consider themselves above the law.

    It is getting worse exponentially.

    1. Dredd – they cleared up Kagan’s problem and the article seems to call out everybody from the first court forward. You have to get off the Republicans on the Court.

  2. For goodness sake. She got a location wrong. It is hardly a ‘religious’ error. The first settlement was in New Amsterdam – the first synagogue was in Newport. The article called it a ‘small misstep’. Perhaps you are missing some sense of proportion?

    1. She has a raft of law clerks helping with the decision. Somebody could have fact checked it.

  3. Thanks for posting Dredd – and for pointing out its importance. Of course I’m with the guy who called it a cringe-worthy blunder. But that’s only because I’m so fond of Big Tony.

    1. I do hope your read Kagan’s error in history writing. Not as bad but given her religion and that she was making a religious point, it is pretty unforgivable.

  4. Oh yes, I recall he got his own opinion wrong on that decision, lol.

  5. feynman

    I guess this is coming out now since Tony made some big huge mistake on a recent ruling. I forget what it was about.
    Capo Big Tony got the flat earth thingy wrong:

    The mistake in Scalia’s opinion concerned one section of about a page and a half in which he contended that the EPA was again asking for the authority to weigh costs against benefits in determining how large a reduction in emissions it mandates. “Plus ça Change: EPA’s Continuing Quest for Cost-Benefit Authority,” read the section heading. “Plus ça change” is the start of a French phrase that means “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

    Scalia went on to say the case “is not the first time EPA has sought to convert the Clean Air Act into a mandate for cost-effective regulation.” He cited as authority the high court’s 2001 decision in Whitman v. American Trucking Associations, in which the court said that such an analysis was not allowed under a section of the landmark anti-pollution law. The author was Scalia.

    The problem is that it was the trucking group, not the EPA, that wanted the agency to use a cost-benefit analysis.

    Among those who first pointed out the problem were law professors Jonathan Adler of Case Western Reserve University and Dan Farber of the University of California at Berkeley.

    Adler called the mistake merely “noticeable.” Farber called it “a cringe-worthy blunder,” ”hugely embarrassing” and doubly so because Scalia wrote the opinion he mistakenly cited for support.

  6. Sounds like a back door way to change a decision illegally. What substantial matters have been chaged using this method? I’m too lazy to read the whole Harvard Law Review article.

    1. Annie – since they make the law and the disclaimer is there to begin with, it is hardly illegal.

  7. For example, big brother could point out to you:

    For instance “This article is the first to explore the Court’s practice of revising its opinions after initial publication …”

  8. Paul Schulte

    It is pretty hard to change decisions that have gone before unless under Lexis/Nexis they can get to the data copy of the decision. Those decisions are published and then bound in number books for reference in upcoming cases. This isn’t like the Congressional Record where they change everything.
    Read the report for heaven sake, before you blather out nonsense.

    This is not trivial.

    If you can’t read big stuff like that wait for your big brother to do it.

  9. I guess this is coming out now since Tony made some big huge mistake on a recent ruling. I forget what it was about.

  10. Annie

    Whoa, saw your explanation Dredd, is that Consitutional?!
    IMO (and the law professor too I think):

    The proper thing to do is publish a correction in a separate opinion update saying it supersedes the previous.

    But that should be limited not only to a short period of time, but also to non-substantial matters.

    Otherwise, the correct path is to overturn the previous decision explaining why.

  11. Dredd

    I’m still using XP – maybe that’s why I don’t see any green text. But since you offered a better description – I realize this did catch my eye while scanning Huffpo. I’ll check it out.


  12. Annie

    Whoa, saw your explanation Dredd, is that Consitutional?!
    Until the Chief Justice is impeached.

    1. And then Sotomayor made her boo-boo. I have read the first ten pages and of yet I am not sure I see a real problem that would require the impeachment of the Chief Justice. Since they have been doing this historically, it is just the way they do things. That they haven’t officially published in 5 years is a problem but not major. West Law Publishing publishes the decision every year in one or more volumes. Those are what are referred to in the cases. When you listen to oral arguments, you hear lawyers and the Court referring to decisions made since the last official publication. So, basically, there is an unofficial official decision that everyone is depending on.

  13. The screaming was figurative, not literal. And I do not believe in quotas.

  14. Paul, I never scream, not even when a big huge centipede fell on my bed, while I was in it. Now you are back on your quota, for real.

  15. bfm

    First laugh of the day….

    ‘pull up a chair and watch in fascination. ‘


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