Urban districts make slow progress in reading

Earlier today the results of the 2009 NAEP 4th and 8th grade reading assessment were released for 18 large urban districts from across the country. Although results were somewhat positive, they are not nearly as positive as the math scores released back in December.

Since 2007, eleven districts have participated in the NAEP district level pilot, called Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA). Of those eleven districts, four have increased their scores at the 4th grade level and just two were able to do so at the 8th grade level.  In 2009, eighteen districts participated in TUDA and just two districts scored similarly to the national average on the 8th grade assessment.

Although most urban districts are making progress in math, such gains are not the norm when it comes to reading. Most urban districts are not making much progress at improving their students’ reading achievement. However, the data clearly shows gains can be made. Since 2002, Atlanta has made huge gains in its reading achievement, increasing scores by 14 points at both the 4th and 8th grade levels — nearly a year and a half worth of learning! During this same time period, Washington, D.C. and New York were able to increase their 4th grade reading scores by 13 and 11 points respectively — again, more than a year’s worth of learning. So even though most urban districts have made little progress in reading, there are examples that it can be done.

A summary of the results below:

Fourth Grade

  • Washington, D.C. (6 points), Boston (5 points), Houston (6 points) and New York City (4 points) increased their scores from 2007 to 2009. During this same time period, scores for the nation remained flat.
  • Just as in math, Charlotte (NC) was the only urban district to score higher than the overall national average. Austin, New York City, Jefferson County (KY) and Miami-Dade scores were not significantly different from the national average.
  • Six of the eighteen 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 36 percent in Charlotte to just 5 percent in Detroit. Nationally, 31 percent of students scored proficient or above on NAEP.  

Eighth Grade

  • Atlanta (5 points) and Los Angeles (3 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 by 1 point.
  • From 2002 to 2009, two out of five districts made significant gains in their performance: Atlanta (14 points) and Los Angeles (7 points).
  • No district outscored the nation as a whole, but Austin and Miami-Dade 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 30 percent, while Detroit once again had the lowest at just 7 percent.

–Jim Hull

 

 

Change in NAEP Scale Scores

Grade 4

Grade 8

Since 2002 Since 2007 Since 2002 Since 2007
National

3*

0

0

1*

Large City

8*

2

2

2*

Atlanta

14*

2

14*

5*

Austin

3

4

Boston

5*

4

Charlotte

2

0

Chicago

9*

2

0

0

Cleveland

-4

-4

District o f Columbia

13*

6*

0

0

Houston

5

6*

4

0

Los Angeles

6*

2

7*

3*

New York City

11*

4*

3

San Diego

3

4

         
* 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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