Urban districts on the right tack

Yesterday the results of the 2009 NAEP 4th and 8th grade math assessment were released for 18 large urban districts from across the country. For the most part, the results were quite positive.

Since 2003, ten districts have participated in the NAEP district level pilot called Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA). Of those ten districts, eight have increased their scores at the 4th grade level and nine were able to do so at the 8th grade level.  Furthermore, 50 percent more students attending schools in large cities (cities with a population greater than 250,000) scored at the proficient level in 2009 compared to 2003 at both the 4th and 8th grade levels.

Although most urban districts are on the right track, there is still a lot more work to be done. Most urban districts are still not performing up to the level of the average U.S. school. The gap between the achievement of our urban schools and their suburban counterparts needs to close so that all students have the same chance for success after high school no matter if their district is located in an urban, rural, or suburban area.

The report also found:

Fourth Grade

  • Washington, DC (6 points) and Boston (3 points) were the only districts to increase their scores from 2007 to 2009. During this same time period scores for the nation remained flat.
    • These two districts also made the greatest gains from 2003 to 2009 by increasing scores by 15 and 16 points respectively. This is roughly equivalent to about a year and half’s worth of learning.
  • Charlotte (NC) was the only urban district to score higher than the overall national average. Austin, New York City, and San Diego scores were not significantly different from the national average.
  • Seven urban districts did score higher than the national average for students attending schools in large cities (cities of populations of 250,000 or more).
  • The percent of students scoring at or above proficient varied dramatically among urban districts, from 45 percent in Charlotte to just 3 percent in Detroit.
    • However, 45 percent more students in large cities were proficient in 2009 than in 2003.

Eighth Grade

  • Austin (4 points) and San Diego (8 points) were the only two districts to significantly increase their scores from 2007 to 2009. During this same time period, students nationally increased their scores 2 points.
  • From 2003 to 2009, nine out of ten districts made significant gains in their performance, with Atlanta (15), Boston (18), Houston (13), Los Angeles (13), and San Diego (16) all making gains of more than 10 points.
    • No district had a decrease in scores from 2003 to 2009.
  • Austin was the only district to outscore the nation as a whole.  Boston, Charlotte, and San Diego didn’t score significantly different from the national average.
  • Five urban districts did score higher than the national average for students attending schools in large cities.
  • The percent of students scoring at or above proficient varied, just as it did at the fourth grade level. Austin had the highest percentage, at 39 percent, while Detroit once again had the lowest, at just 4 percent.
    • However, overall, 50 percent more students in large urban cities were proficient in 2009 compared to 2003.

— Jim Hull

 

Change in NAEP Scale Scores

Districts

Grade 4

Grade 8

Since 2003

Since 2007

Since 2003

Since 2007

National

5*

0

6*

2*

Large Cities

7*

2*

9*

3*

Atlanta

10*

2

15*

3

Austin

0

5*

Baltimore City

Boston

16*

3*

18*

3

Charlotte

3

1

4*

0

Chicago

8*

2

9*

3

Cleveland

-1

-2

3

-1

Detroit

Washington, DC

15*

6*

8*

3

Fresno

Houston

9*

2

13*

3

Jefferson County (KY)

Los Angeles

6*

1

13*

1

Miami-Dade

Milwaukee

New York City

11*

1

7*

3

Philadelphia

San Diego

10*

2

16*

8*

* Indicates scores are significantly different from the 2009 scores, meaning difference in scores between years likely didn’t happen by chance.

– Indicates the district didn’t participate in the previous assessment.

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