DPS math achievement worst in the nation

Detroit Public Schools is the nation’s lowest performing urban district in mathematics, according to figures released today (PDF) by the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP). According to NAEP, even if the district improved at a record rate, it would still take at least four years to catch up with the next lowest district.

The Detroit Free Press report outlines how truly abysmal DPS' performance was:

The hour-long NAEP test is scored in two ways. In the first, average results are scored on a scale of 1 to 500. In the second set of scoring criteria, test-takers are ranked from “below basic” to “advanced.” About 69 % of the fourth-grade students scored “below basic.” In eighth grade, 77% were below basic.

Appalingly, not one DPS 4th or 8th grader scored at the advanced level.

Free Press columnist Rochelle Reilly listened to the terrible news with some members of Detroit Parent Network:

Wilbert Riser couldn’t stop shaking his head.

Veattris Edwards let out a gasp as if she’d just gotten news that someone had died.

Joe Baker bowed his head, took off his glasses, cleaned them, then sat in silence.

And Terance Collier groaned in disbelief. Over and over, he said, “Wow," and “Oh my God.”

The four parents, members of the Detroit Parent Network, a local organization that uses workshops and seminars to improve parental involvement in children’s education, watched from a Free Press conference room the news that Detroit Public Schools students’ math scores were lower than any other comparable city in the nation on a 2009 assessment.

But DPN parents aren't giving in:

But when the presentation ended, something interesting happened. He began to clap, loudly.

“I was saddened by the results, but I was happy at the same time to understand that we know the problem now,” said Collier, 48, father of three sons, a 16-year-old at Renaissance High, and a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old, who are students at Ludington Magnet Middle School. “The problem has been unmasked so we can really get down to the issues at hand.”

Collier said the solution lies with parents.

“It’s all about parenting. The teachers can’t be the parents. The police can’t be the parents … All children should know their real name when they go to school, know their father’s and mother’s name, know their telephone number, know their colors, shapes and how to count to 10. Then you make them prepared for the educational progress.”

DPN executive director Sharlonda Buckman released this statement in reaction to the NAEP figures:

These figures illustrate the code red crisis our city’s schools are facing and point to the urgent need for Detroit’s leaders to work together with parents to find ways to give our kids the education they deserve. Proposal S, which will bring badly needed Federal funds to the city’s schools, is a good start, but leaders in City Hall, Lansing and Washington must create more initiatives like this to boost resources for our children’s education and our city’s future.

Detroit parents are committed to holding DPS as well as government leaders at Local, State, and Federal levels accountable for our kids’ education. DPN is doing its part to keep track of how the Mayor and other city leaders respond to the education crisis through its Listen Up Mayor campaign, which cites Better Schools as a top parent priority. In many community meetings DPN has held about improving city schools, parents have not only expressed to us a willingness, but have in fact demanded to play a role in saving the city’s education system.

In addition to holding our leaders accountable, Detroit parents are committed to doing our part at home to give our kids the support they need to succeed. We need to make sure that our kids get to school and that they do their homework and study. We must also communicate regularly with teachers to ensure our children’s success in the classroom.

This crisis is too big for anyone to stay on the sidelines. Detroit parents must provide strong leadership at home and DPS, City Hall, Lansing, and Washington must enact radical, transformative changes to meet our children’s education needs.

Better Schools is a top priority in the Listen Up Mayor Campaign's Agenda for Detroit Kids. Mayor Bing said the figures are a 'wake up call' - he's right. Parents and government leaders at every level parents need to wake up and work together to create an environment in which our children can succeed.



(image from nolandgrab.org)