D.C. officials’ choice allowed math tests to show gain

Emma Brown

The four-point gains D.C. public school students achieved citywide on the most recent annual math and reading tests were acclaimed as historic, as more evidence that the city’s approach to improving schools is working.
But the math gains officials reported were the result of a quiet decision to score the tests in a way that yielded higher scores even though D.C. students got far fewer math questions correct than in the year before.
The decision was made after D.C. teachers recommended a new grading scale — which would have held students to higher standards on tougher math tests — and after officials reviewed projections that the new scale would result in a significant decline in math proficiency rates.
Instead, city officials chose to discard the new grading approach and hold students to a level of difficulty similar to previous years’, according to city officials as well as e-mails and documents obtained by The Washington Post.