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NEWS RELEASE: San Diego Unified NAEP Scores

NEWS RELEASE: San Diego Unified NAEP Scores
Posted on 10/24/2022


Nation’s Report Card: San Diego Unified School District Students Outperform Peers in State, Nation and Big Cities 

District Reading Scores Hold Steady, Math Scores Decline

October 24, 2022

San Diego, California – Results from the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation's Report Card, released by the U.S. Department of Education show San Diego Unified School District reading scores for students in fourth- and eighth-grades remained largely unchanged since 2019, while math results declined.

California public schools showed similar results, and public schools nationwide saw declines in reading and math for both grade levels tested. Large cities with populations of 250,000 or more declined in fourth-grade reading and in math for both grade levels but had flat scores for eighth-grade reading.

“We have to remember that the pandemic required our schools, students and educators to pivot. We implemented robust safety measures to protect our school communities, such as HVAC filtration systems, face masks, and protocols for contact tracing. All while maintaining the continuity of student instruction, and providing access to school meals and internet connectivity,” said Superintendent Dr. Lamont Jackson. “We need to do better but these results demonstrate that our students and educators are resilient. Our students are back in the classroom, and that is a critical first step that we need to acknowledge.”

In math, district fourth-graders went from 42% NAEP-proficient in 2019 to 34% in 2022; in eighth-grade, NAEP proficiency rates decreased from 35% to 28%. The district’s results mirror its California state testing results where math declined more sharply than reading.

Raymond C. Hart, Executive Director of the Council of the Great City Schools, reviewed San Diego Unified’s NAEP results, and made note of the district’s literacy scores.

“The NAEP data, collected at the peak of the COVID-19 Omicron variant wave, reflect the significant impact that the pandemic had in our Great Cities. In reading at grades four and eight, San Diego maintained pre-pandemic scores, in contrast with the nation which saw declines at both grades. The changes in San Diego’s mathematics scores are consistent with the nation, California, and other large cities,” Hart said. “Sustaining achievement in any grade or subject in the face of a global crisis is no easy feat and is testament to San Diego’s academic continuity planning during the crisis, as well as their proactive recovery efforts when schools reopened. Specifically, the district continued with their multi-pronged literacy approach, which has yielded gains over time.”

Source: National Center for Education Statistics
“Large City”—public schools in large cities, population >=250,000 

“California”—public schools in the state of California

“National Public”—public schools across the nation

In reading, all district student groups—race/ethnicity, gender, income eligibility, disability, and English Learner status—showed relatively flat results for both grade levels. In math, while most student groups showed declines in both grade levels, there were exceptions. Fourth- and eighth-grade Asian/Pacific Islander students and eighth-grade Latino students had unchanged math results in 2022 compared with 2019. Fourth- and eighth-grade students in the highest performance band, i.e., those in the 90th percentile or top 10 percent, also had unchanged math results.

San Diego Unified has put into place academic and mental health initiatives to help students amid a pandemic that has impacted some families more severely than others.   

“The current narrative and the urgency of ‘learning loss’ needs to be challenged.  Yes, there was an across-the-board loss. Yet, as we were all simultaneously experiencing this loss, the public school system was one of the first major organizations to quickly pivot and step into the responsibility that we have always held,” said Deputy Superintendent Dr. Fabiola Bagula. “We have been teaching our students and changing our practices to meet the needs of the day. We have implemented many strategies to help support each and every student, and we understand the impact of COVID and quarantine on the social lives of our children.”

To help students recover from learning loss and the pandemic, San Diego Unified has new and expanded supports in place to meet the academic and mental health needs of students. The academic initiatives include:

  • Expanded early education programs, including Universal Transitional Kindergarten  

  • Extended learning opportunities outside the classroom

  • Subject-area supports for enhanced mathematics, literacy, and other subjects

  • Expanded Visual and Performing Arts instruction and opportunities

  • A priority on standards-based learning, teaching, and grading

In general, NAEP proficiency rates tend to be lower than state proficiency rates, in part, because the assessments are not aligned to state standards.

NAEP is a congressionally mandated assessment overseen by the US Department of Education. NAEP results are available for the nation, the 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) and selected urban districts participating in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA). In 2022, NAEP TUDA had 26 participating districts including San Diego Unified.

The Nation's Report Card, first administered in 1969, is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what our nation's students know and can do in subjects such as mathematics, reading, science, and writing. Standard administration practices are implemented to provide a common measure of student achievement.

For more details on San Diego Unified's scores and more information on NAEP, please visit www.nationsreportcard.gov

Media contact: Communications Director Maureen Magee, [email protected] .