- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Teach students what they need to know, because what they need to know will be on a test, and it might help them get a job down the road.

D.C. and Maryland officials released the results Tuesday of the new standardized test that is tied to the Common Core standards, and they said the low scores are a reality check.

D.C. high school students are neither prepared nor ready for college and the workplace.

So, actually, the low scores are a gut check and a reflection of the need for vouchers.

The bad news in D.C. is that only 10 percent of students who were tested on geometry met proficiency standards, and 25 percent of students who were tested on English were proficient. All told, fewer than 30 percent of D.C. students met goals on the English test, and 12 percent passed the geometry test.

In Maryland, less than 40 percent of all high schoolers who took the English test passed, a bit more than 30 percent passed Algebra I, and of the Algebra II test-takers only 20 percent passed.

The standardized test is called Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and it stems from the states’ Common Core buy-in.

The Commonwealth of Virginia does not use the PARCC test because it did not adopt Common Core. So Virginia’s statewide exam continues to use the Standards of Learning (SOL).

Here’s how then-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, explained the decision to reject nationalized academic standards back in 2010.

“[A] federal mandate to adopt a federal common core standard is just not something I can accept, nor can most of the education leaders in Virginia, nor can most of the legislators.” And his successor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, said this in an August appearance on WTOP radio: “Virginia has higher standards than Common Core. And statewide tests scores in reading and math continue to improve. ‘We’re making tremendous progress.’ “

Smart leaders across the Potomac. They stuck with what they knew is working and gives them — and Virginia’s parents and teachers — a constant gauge of teaching and learning.

Meanwhile, D.C. and Maryland changed goalposts, knowing well that their students and schools were already struggling to catch up and keep up with their next-door neighbors.

D.C. Chancellor Kaya Henderson had to take one for the team: “The PARCC scores show that DC Public Schools still has a lot of work to do to prepare every student for a successful future in college and a career. This year’s test serves as an important baseline from which we will work to help prepare all students.”

For sure, it seems D.C. teachers no longer even teach to the test — or is it that white students get it and Hispanic and black students simply do not test well?

The question is relevant because one of the takeaways from the PARCC is that 82 percent of white students were deemed college and career ready in English II, while only 20 percent of black students and 25 percent of Hispanic students were.

This is why parents need the daggum vouchers. Their parents need to have the option to send them to St. John’s College High School, where parents and students are literally and technologically plugged into every aspect of their children’s school life. St. John’s parents don’t even have to guess when a child is having a test or how their child is doing in school. They can monitor that information on the Internet.

The D.C. equivalent is an ombudsman, whose job is to mitigate problems.

Like night and day, eh?

That D.C. officials had low expectations of students speaks volumes about education leadership — from Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council education chair David Grosso to the chancellor’s team, the unions and the parents. The low expectations prove that, here again, through no fault of their own, children are being set up to fail.

It’s a cruel reminder of the line many D.C. teachers used to taunt children in the 1980s, “I’ve got mine, you’ve got yours to get.”

And this time around, officials may not be mouthing those words, but the cruelty is playing itself out via PARCC.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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