Press Release

2003 NAEP Urban Districts Reading and Math results: What districts do matters

Publication date: Dec 17, 2003

(Washington, D.C.) — Results of the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Trial Urban District Assessment in Mathematics and Reading for grades 4, and 8 released today by the U.S. Department of Education, show that some urban districts are getting much better results for students than others, but that large achievement gaps between groups of students still persist. These results make clear that what districts do matters.

Large differences in achievement levels among districts for the same groups of students.

“If demographic factors such as race, income level, or geography exert such an overwhelming impact on learning, then one would expect to see African American or Latino students, for example, performing about the same on NAEP from one urban district to another. But that is simply not the case. The scores vary widely across these districts even for the same group of students. In some cases the differences are staggering,” said Kati Haycock, director of the Education Trust.

“On the one hand, it’s encouraging to see proof-positive that big urban districts can educate students as well as other districts, and that demography does not determine achievement. But it’s also a reminder of how far some of our biggest districts have to go to realize the learning potential of their students,” Haycock continued.

Comparing districts with the highest scale scores to other districts:

Mathematics

4th GRADE:

 

  • Latino 4th graders in Charlotte outperform Latino 4th graders in the District of Columbia by 28 points – a difference of roughly 3 years’ worth of learning.
  • African American 4th graders in Charlotte outperform African American 4th graders in Chicago by 22 points  – a difference of roughly 2 years’ worth of learning.

 

8th GRADE:

 

  • Latino 8th graders in Charlotte outperform Latino 8th graders in Los Angeles by 22 points – a difference of roughly 2 years’ worth of learning.
  • African American 8th graders in Houston outperform African American 8th graders in Los Angeles by 25 points – a difference of roughly 2 ½ years’ worth of learning.
  • Low-income 8th graders in New York City outperform low-income students in Atlanta by 22 points – a difference of roughly 2 years’ worth of learning.

 

Reading

4th GRADE:

 

  • Latino 4th graders in New York City outperform Latino 4th graders in the District of Columbia by 18 points – a difference of roughly 2 years’ worth of learning.
  • African American 4th graders in Charlotte outperform African American 4th graders in Los Angeles by 18 points – a difference of roughly 2 years’ worth of learning.
  • Low-income 4th graders in New York City outperform low-income students in Atlanta by 17 points – a difference of roughly 2 years’ worth of learning.

 

8th GRADE:

 

  • Latino 8th graders in Chicago outperform Latino 8th graders in Los Angeles by 21 points – a difference of roughly 2 years’ worth of learning.
  • African American 8th graders in Charlotte outperform African American 8th graders in San Diego by 11 points – a difference of roughly 1 year’s worth of learning.

“It’s clear that the kinds of instruction-focused reforms we’ve seen in districts like Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Houston and New York are having a big impact and helping students there achieve at higher levels,” Haycock continued. “That said, the achievement gaps in these districts are still too large.”

Achievement gaps still too large.

When comparing Latino, African American and low-income achievement in urban districts to the achievement of their White and more affluent peers, large gaps still persist (see attachments).

“These gaps – many indicating differences of two or more years’ worth of learning – are still way too large,” Haycock noted. “They are a reminder that we have much work to do in ensuring that African American, Latino and low-income youngsters are placed in rigorous classes and taught to the same high levels as other students. Reforms that make instructional improvements across the board are important and can have big payoffs for all groups of students, but gaps between groups will remain unless you uncover and directly address opportunity gaps within systems and schools.”

Learning from the frontier.

Some of the urban districts in the NAEP Urban Trial Assessment consistently score above the national average. For example, when looking at 4th and 8th grade Reading and Math scores for White, Latino and African American students, Charlotte is above the national average on 9 of 12 indicators, and Houston is above the national average on 7 of 12 indicators (see attachments). Notably, Charlotte is not below the national average for any of the racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

“That said, we need to keep our eyes on the prize and ensure that all students are learning what they need to know to succeed in life,” Haycock concluded. “And on that front, we clearly have a long way to go – not just in our big cities, but all over the country.”

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