Over the past week, we’ve seen headlines such as “One in 10 D.C. students score ‘college ready’ on new high school math test.” “U.S. student performance slips on national test.”

It’s difficult to accept that our educational systems are not preparing our students for college and careers, but it’s a reality that we need to acknowledge and work hard to reshape. This is the first year of the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the District of Columbia State Board of Education set a high bar. The State Board set the bar at a Level 4, meaning that students “met expectations” and are ready for college or the workforce without remedial education. As anticipated, the District’s scores on the PARCC exam are far lower than recent scores on the DC CAS, the District’s previous standardized test.

In the District, across both DC Public Schools and public charter schools, only 25% of high school students met or exceeded expectations (scored at a level 4 or 5) in English II on the PARCC. In Math, only 10% of students met or exceeded expectations. As we dig deeper, the PARCC results become more troubling and the achievement gap is immense. On the English test, only 17% of students who are “economically disadvantaged,” 20% of Black students, and 25% of Hispanic students met or exceeded expectations while 82% of white students met or exceeded expectations. What is worse: just weeks after we celebrated a surge in our city’s graduation rate, we find that at several of our city’s high schools no students met expectations on the PARCC in Math and very few met that threshold in English.

In many ways, these test results reinforce the work that Companies for Causes is doing in the Eastern Community. Since Eastern’s relaunch in 2011, we’ve helped students get job skills through our Easternship program, we’ve work to ensure every student visits College, and we’ve sponsored Honor Roll Assemblies. But we know we can #DoMore.

This year, we’ve launched our All Roads Lead to Graduation project to support students throughout the Eastern Community. We’re invested in a number of programs—early literacy, 8th grade math, hands-on education and tutoring, internship experiences, college visits, and honor roll support—that research has proven to increase high school graduation rates and student success in college and the workforce.  

I hope you’ll join us and make an investment to support the work that we’re doing.

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