On Sunday, the New York Times published an op-ed critical of school choice policies in Washington, DC. As Matt Yglesias very fairly pointed out, the author, Natalie Hopkinson, failed to cite student achievement data to back her claim that residential segregation and the expansion of the charter school sector have left many DC families with only “mediocre” public school options. Thankfully, on Wednesday the federal government dumped a mass of new NAEP test score data from the nation’s largest cities, including DC. NAEP, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, is the gold standard in education research: the only exam overseen by the federal government and adminstered to a random selection of schoolchildren annually, with no rewards or punishments attached to corrupt the scores.

I spent this morning diving into the new NAEP numbers in an effort to paint a more complete picture of student achievement in DC over the past decade, which included the three tumultous years of Michelle Rhee’s chancellorship. While white, black and Hispanic children all made modest test score gains in DC since 2003, the Rhee agenda has not significantly narrowed achievement gaps between the various demographic groups, nor has it brought disadvantaged DC youth up to the national average scores for peers of their same race and class in other cities.


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