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More than 51 percent of students were deemed proficient in 2013, compared to 33 percent in 2007, when the District implemented a series of reforms under the leadership of Chancellor Michelle Rhee. The reforms, including expanding quality charter schools, strengthening teacher evaluations, instituting merit pay, removing ineffective teachers, upgrading curriculum, and measuring results, have been controversial in Washington, and in the United States more generally.
Over the past year, student proficiency rose by 3.6 percentage points in math, and 3.9 percentage points in reading. These changes have taken time. Current Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson quotes Abraham Lincoln to describe the right approach: “Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.