WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Fifth graders at Malcolm X Elementary School have reason to chant on Thursday, as they and other D.C. students who were fourth graders and eighth graders last year now lead the nation in improved scores on the NAEP test. It stands for "National Assessment of Educational Progress."
U.S. Education Secretary and former basketball player, Arnie Duncan, came in person to deliver the good news.
"51 players -- only one showed the greatest improvement, and that was D.C.," he said.
District fourth graders jumped seven points in math and five in reading, while eighth graders are up five points in math and six in reading. And all D.C. ethnic groups improved - Caucasians up 13 points, Latinos up 20, and African-Americans up 19.
The scores include both public and charter school students, and the fifth graders from Achievement Preparatory say they are thrilled.
"We have been working out tails off," said D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, whose system has been suspected of cheating. But D.C. employees don't touch the NAEP test - only the feds do.
"It's considered to be un-cheatable," she explained. "The NAEP comes into your building, they choose the children who will take the exam, and they walk out with the results."
Approximately 7,800 students took the test. Along with the state of Tennessee, the District saw the largest growth in America during that time span.
"I am confident that the approach we have taken to ensure great teaching and high quality content is key to our success," Chancellor Kaya Henderson said in a statement. "When you walk into our schools, you see a dramatically different classroom then you would have seen several years ago."
Between 2011 and 2013, math and reading scores went up 5 and 7 percent respectively, compared to the national average of 1 percent gains in each category. Among 8th graders, those scores went up 6 and 5 percent.
"The results today reinforce what other indicators have shown - our work every day in our schools is leading to greater student success," Henderson said.
D.C. Public Schools officials say that the score growth, across the board, is 3 to 7 percent higher than the national average.