Time to Rethink Reform:

Evidence from DC and Beyond

“Based on no evidence of progress [throughout five years of education reform in Washington, DC] and strong evidence for the role of neighborhood economic indicators, DC Action for Children recommends that local policymakers and community advocates rethink current policies and try new approaches to improving the chances that every child achieves proficiency by third grade. This policy brief describes promising neighborhood- focused initiatives across the US and offers recommendations about how DC might improve reading and math proficiency for all children who live here.”

DC Action for Children recently completed an analysis of 3rd-grade achievement in DC over the past five years: “Despite Reforms, No Measurable Reading or Math Gains for DC 3rd Graders.” In addition, the data, published on December 17, 2012, suggest that reforms over the past five years have not appreciably affected early childhood achievement gaps by race or by income.

Data released in September does show, over the course of the same five years, some closing of the gap — still a yawning 40 points or more — in eighth grade scores. In the new brief, however, DC Action argues that 3rd-grade proficiency is particularly linked to crucial outcomes later in life, including high school graduation and future earnings. Noting that DC’s early-childhood reforms do not appear to be making desired impacts, the brief includes examples — from across the country — of neighborhood-based approaches to supporting the youngest learners that do appear to be working.

The 20-year-old DC Action for Children is a non-profit is dedicated to data and analysis, awareness, and advocacy to help break the cycle of poverty for the District's children. Gwen Rubinstein, deputy director, will discuss the 3rd grade results and their implications — for education policy everywhere — with fellow guests on The Education Town Hall, Thursday, 12/19/12, 11 a.m. – noon.

Participation Options

  • Listening
    • Listen live, from 11 a.m. to noon, Thursdays, from anywhere with an internet connection.
    • In the immediate listening area (parts of DC-MD-VA), tune in to We Act Radio, AM 1480 (WPWC).
    • Check back, shortly after air-time, for an MP3 from The Education Town Hall archives.
  • Share your thoughts here…Together, we can pool our experiences and ideas to address the challenges facing our schools and neighborhoods.

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