Wilson rated highly in flawed DCPS report

Elie Salem and Zara Hall

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) released report cards for every public and charter school in the District last Friday, with a series of metrics and a rating out of five stars. Wilson’s overall score was 75 percent, earning high marks for graduation rates, AP performance, and PARCC scores, but lagging in areas like attendance. The Wilson report card, however, was riddled with inaccuracies that will soon be corrected.

The report cards are part of an OSSE initiative to be more transparent with school data following revelations last year that schools felt pressured to graduate students who did not meet district requirements. The report cards help flag schools that are in need of extra attention and funding, and give parents more information that they can use when deciding where to send their children.

“We’re extremely excited about the report cards because they provide the transparency families have been asking for,” Deputy Mayor of Education Paul Kihn said.

Though the report cards are aimed to increase accessibility of data for families, there were many glaring issues in the information released about Wilson. The report card stated that Wilson does not offer AP classes, while Wilson, in reality, offers the most AP classes of any DCPS high school. The profile of Wilson provided on the report also erroneously stated that Wilson doesn’t have dual enrollment, featured a picture of HD Woodson High School instead of Wilson, and overestimated the school population.

Principal Martin discussed the errors with the report cards to State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang last Saturday, where she was told that most were published due to a programming issue.

“[OSSE] accidentally put in the code for Woodson in the Wilson page and then got the wrong picture,” said Martin.

Errors were also apparent on other school’s report cards. School Without Walls High School was listed as not having AP classes, and as having career and technical education (CTE) while the opposite is true in both regards.

Earlier this week, DCPS sent Wilson administration a form that could be used to input the correct information and ultimately correct the errors. Martin believes that though the mistakes are relatively minor, they undermine the rest of the information published.

“Our worry is that if you have a picture of Woodson on the Wilson page and it says Wilson doesn’t have AP classes and everybody knows Wilson has AP classes, people also then question the validity of every other part of the report that might be true.”

While issuing school report cards was pioneered by DCPS, general publication of school performance is required under the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” an Obama-era revamp of “No Child Left Behind,” passed in 2015.

The report card rates every school out of five stars, which is based on the school’s overall score that is calculated out of 100 percentage points. Wilson received a score of 74.46 percent, meaning it is 5.64 points away from receiving 5 stars. OSSE uses a wide variety of metrics to calculate this score and for each scoring category, such as PARCC scores or attendance, there are subscores based on race as well as performance for at-risk and students with disabilities

Each metric and its subscores have a target score, as well as a floor score, which is consistent for all DCPS and charter schools of the same school type (elementary, middle and high), meaning comprehensive high schools are evaluated based on the same standards as magnet schools and charter schools. Benjamin Banneker, a magnet high school with the highest score of 99.01 percent, has the option of expelling students with behavioral issues or poor performance. Banneker had the same target, floor and ceiling scores as schools without those options.

Wilson earned 70 points in the African-American student group and 55 points in the Hispanic/Latino demographic, while scoring 41 points and 47 points for Asians and whites respectively. The average and target values for racial minorities were significantly lower than their white and Asian peers, making it easier for Wilson to score well in those areas.

“When I first saw [the report card], I was confused why we have so few points for white students and Asian students until I realized that the target is 100 percent,” Martin said.

In the section termed “school environment,” Wilson met or exceeded the the DCPS average in all categories except student attendance. Wilson’s PARCC scores also exceed DCPS’ averages in every respect, especially the percent of Wilson students that earned a 4 or higher on the test.

Martin says that she finds the data released with the report cards fascinating. “I like having this kind of a lens to look at the school, because for every measurement I’ve got a kid and I’ve got a story that explains why this looks like this. This is a completely different view.”