Local: Education

Extremes show disparity between schools

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Local,DC,Education,Lisa Gartner
Extremes show disparity between schools

Oyster-Adams Bilingual School, the Woodley Park campus where former Chancellor Michelle Rhee sent her children, has more good teachers than any other school in D.C. Public Schools.

An analysis by The Washington Examiner shows that most teachers rated "effective" or higher are spread fairly evenly throughout the city, but extremes highlight the usual paradox of school reform, where the most involved parents and best resources -- like teachers -- are in schools that need them much less than their counterparts.

The outliers
Fewest effective teachers per student
School Effective or highly effective teachers Students Ratio Reading proficiency* Ward
Garfield Elementary 5 249 1:50 10.1% 8
Johnson Middle School 9 260 1:29 17.1% 8
Hart Middle School 14 402 1:29 29.8% 8
Ketcham Elementary School 9 255 1:28 32.9% 8
Malcolm X Elementary School 9 239 1:27 19.5% 8
Most effective teachers per student
School Effective or highly effective teachers Students Ratio Reading proficiency* Ward
Eastern High School 25 167 1:7 0% 6
Shaw Middle School 26 188 1:7 27.1% 1
H.D. Woodson High School 49 518 1:11 13.5% 7
Macfarland Middle School 17 180 1:11 26.6% 4
Tubman Elementary School 44 472 1:11 42.5% 1
* Students rated "proficient" in June 2011 DC CAS exams
Source: D.C. Public Schools, Office of the State Superintendent for Education

Oyster-Adams has 60 teachers who DCPS rates as effective or "highly effective" based on their Impact evaluations, or about one good teacher for every 11 students in the preschool-3 school.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Garfield Elementary, home to only five teachers who DCPS says are at least "effective." That's roughly one good teacher for every 50 students in the preschool-5 Southeast school.

Scott Thompson, DCPS director of teacher effectiveness strategy, said he was not aware of any extenuating circumstances at Oyster-Adams or Garfield. However, teachers who focus on English-language learners may not have their own classrooms, possibly increasing the number of teachers at Oyster-Adams, Thompson said.

Jamie Mayo, a parent at Garfield and a 2007 graduate of DCPS, said she believes the school's teachers are doing their best, and that her children are receiving an equal education to those at Oyster-Adams, even though only 10 percent of Garfield students can read proficiently, as per the 2011 D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System.

"When I took the test, I kind of got lost, and I'm not going to say it's the teachers' fault when kids get lost taking the DC CAS," she said.

At Oyster-Adams, parent group co-chairwoman Deon Woods Bell said they are "very lucky." Great teachers have smoothed her experience with DCPS's rocky special-needs program.

"When you have a highly effective teacher, they can rise above all of that, and make the experience for a student kind of seamless," Bell said.

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown, who has introduced legislation to incentivize more top teachers into low-income, underperforming schools, said these extremes in ratios of effective teachers emphasize the gulf between affluent and poor schools.

"If you just think about it, close your eyes, and don't think about the location, don't think about the kids at all -- but took a stranger to those two schools, or showed them video -- they could tell you right away which school had highly effective teachers," he said. - Lisa Gartner

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