Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

E-mail Bill | RSS Feed | In-depth coverage: Education Page | Follow The Post's education coverage: Twitter | Facebook

DC-CAS science scores up in 2009

While the overall numbers are low, District officials said Tuesday that they are encouraged by the growth students showed on the science and biology segments of last year's DC-CAS standardized tests.

Slightly more than a third of DCPS fifth-graders scored proficient or advanced, up 2 percentage points from 2008. About a quarter of eighth-graders reached proficient or advanced, a 5 percent bump. It's only the second year of testing in science and biology, so there isn't much of a baseline for comparison. The test is given in grades 5, 8 and 9-12.

There were some solid school-wide gains, including in some of the middle schools. Takoma, Jefferson, Stuart-Hobson and Sousa improved by between 5 and 13 percentage points. Fifth grades at nine elementary schools boosted their scores by more than 20 percent: Emery, Noyes, Ross, Tyler, Barnard, Maury, West, Kimball and Stoddert.

Neither DCPS nor OSSE had any immediate explanation as to why these scores were announced eight months after the release of reading and math scores.

Read the official DCPS announcement here

Follow D.C. Schools Insider every day at
And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers,
please check out our new Higher Education page at
Bookmark it!

By Bill Turque  |  May 4, 2010; 6:44 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Council speaks, but Rhee has spoken
Next: Scoping out space for a middle school arts magnet


Perhaps it took eight months to cook the books OR Rhee needed something to take the spot light off her contract issues.

You can always count on DCPS to publish some amazing test scores when things are going bad for Rhee.

I will wait until some independent observers review these scores.

Rhee and company cannot be trusted. The B-more miracle comes to mind.

Posted by: fmurray200111 | May 4, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Let's say these scores are legitimate.

That means the science scores went up before Rhee's "reforms" of RIFing the 266 teachers, hiring the 900 new inexperienced teachers and instituting the new IMPACT evaluation system.

Posted by: efavorite | May 4, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Let's say these scores are legitimate.

That means the science scores went up before Rhee's "reforms" of RIFing the 266 teachers, hiring the 900 new inexperienced teachers and instituting the new IMPACT evaluation system.

Posted by: efavorite

I am one of those new teachers and I was surprised to see the email announcing the results this afternoon. My guess is something not so nice is coming down the pipeline... this is just a distraction. As a new science teacher, my 8th graders got 35 school days to prepare for this test. Remember 8th graders do not take science year round!! So all things considered the results are not bad. Furthermore, my principal does not even recognize science on his radar.. it is a "special" subject. Surprisingly.. He didn't even know the science counted!!!

Posted by: NewDCPSTeacher | May 4, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Maybe these are those "dramatic gains" that were whispered into Jo-Ann Armao's ear on their way to Sunday's editorial.

Posted by: edlharris | May 4, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Although Rhee has manipulated test results before, I do think that the scores for science did go up.

Why? Rhee's focus of teaching to the test will work. In my daughter's school they distributed test prep science materials which almost solely focused on what was on the science DC CAS test last year. This is not good teaching and is not true reform.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | May 4, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

NewDCPSTeacher - it sounds like you've become cynical very quickly.

I wonder what the something not so nice is.

Any ideas?

Posted by: efavorite | May 4, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone find a link to the school-by-school results?

The press release sends the reader to OSSE for school-by-school results, but they do not seem to be posted there.

Posted by: Trulee | May 5, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

All DC CAS results can be found at:

Science/biology were new tests in 2008. In 2008 and 2009, science results were processed later than reading and math. The 2010 DC CAS science results will be announced much earlier or at the same time reading and math results are announced.

Posted by: ossecommunications | May 5, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Of course, letsbereal is right. Teachers are given test booklets (or even copies of the test) ahead of time and instructed to drill the students on it. This is not education, nor does it represent improvement.

I have suggested this to the Washington Post before but I'll suggest it again: Do some investigative reporting to find out how legitimate these scores are (Hint: Administer a different form of the test and see how kids do).

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | May 5, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Where are the science data on OSSE? I see only math and science for the school>>>>>

Posted by: NewDCPSTeacher | May 5, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Keep looking, newdcpsteacher -

if Michelle Rhee announces it and Bill Turque reports it, it must be there somewhere, right?

Posted by: efavorite | May 5, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Why is the State Office of Education reading blogs during a work day from a government computer? Did Rhee direct you to do that? That is not working on instruction but publicizing data people cannot find.

Posted by: southyrndiva | May 6, 2010 7:03 AM | Report abuse

In my daughter's school they distributed test prep science materials which almost solely focused on what was on the science DC CAS test last year. This is not good teaching and is not true reform.

Word. That is not educating students. However, since we devalue actual education, it isn't surprising.

Posted by: sanderling5 | May 6, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

i guarantee one thing.

when rhee is finally gotten rid of the truth will come out about test scores in dc and all of you will be surprised to see that there has actually been no improvement in the scores and in fact, scores will most likely show a decline! and remember you heard it here first!

Posted by: stayone | May 7, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Sorry to be cynical, but Rhee leaving is not going to solve all your problems if what NewDCteacher says is true. Her principal didn't think Science "Counted"??? 8th graders only take science for half a year? What???!!!

I am so dismayed that we are looking at these small changes in data as improvements or lack of and allowing principals or anyone in education to stay in the schools who don't think certain subjects "count".

Good luck.

Posted by: celestun100 | May 7, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse


I guess by 1/2 the year you mean the students have a block schedule, so they get a year's worth of science in a semester and thus have more uninterrupted study time (less class changing).
That is why the teachers are reviewing the science material for a month. The science test is given in the spring and the students have science in the fall, therefore, an intensive review is needed or they would all do poorly, because they are concentrating on other subjects. Makes sense.

Still, all subjects "count" whether they are tested or not.

Posted by: celestun100 | May 7, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

The article only mentions that 5th graders gained 2% and 8th graders gained 5%. What happened with the 9th-12th graders? Why are they not mentioned?

Also, the article noted that there were some solid school-wide gains at 4 middle schools and 9 elementary schools. That's not very many. How many schools' test scores declined? Again, what happened to the high schools?

It is reported as gospel that test scores have gone up under Rhee, but, from what I can glean from the scant information available, test scores declined at more schools than they rose at in 2009.

Posted by: berniehorn | May 7, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

To put this in context, I'm a DCPS bio teacher, so my 9th graders are tested through the CAS.

A few comments on released test items: I have a released practice test from two years ago and the released test items from last year. These are similar but not identical to whatever test is given.

(I haven't seen the test for this year, but I can base that on student reaction, since we'd used the released items as review material/pre-test material - NOT drill-and-kill time, but to assuage their anxiety going into the test. We reviewed for maybe an hour or two, tops.)

Almost every testing operation (College Board, etc.) releases previous test items to help inform students about the kinds of questions they're going to be asked. This is no different.

So, the people doubting the scores - at least at the school at which I teach, last year's scores are legit. The kids know their stuff.

Posted by: sydneybergman | May 8, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company