WATCH: San Diego Unified Student Test Scores Stand Out Nationwide

Posted: Thursday, April 12th 2018


San Diego Unified School District was the only large district in the country to see an increase in both math and reading test scores among fourth and eighth grade students, according to new federal data.

Fourth grade students in San Diego scored an average of 222 on the reading exam in 2017, six points higher than the average in 2015, which is when the exam was last administered.

It’s the largest increase among the 22 large, urban districts in the country for which data is available.
 
data come from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card. The group administers math and reading exams to students in grades 4 and 8 every other year and the results represent one of the only national assessments of what students know and what they can do in certain school subjects. Data for smaller districts were not released.

Data show fourth-grade students in Fresno scored an average of four points higher than students in 2015, the second largest increase in reading scores behind San Diego, followed by students in Los Angeles and Miami-Dade in Florida.

San Diego’s average among eighth graders was 264, up two points from 2015. The average ranks No. 2 in the country behind Hillsborough County, Florida, which had an average of 265 on the 2017 reading test.

“San Diego Unified stands out as a hub of academic excellence and innovation, where students learn and thrive thanks to the dedication of our teachers,” Superintendent Cindy Marten said. “The NAEP results underscore the incredible teaching and learning that’s occurring in San Diego Unified schools every day.”

According to the Nation’s Report Card data, San Diego also saw growth in math scores among fourth- and eighth-grade students. It’s the only district to see an increase from 2015 in both subjects, across both grades.

Thirty-seven percent of fourth graders in San Diego scored at or above proficient in math, outperforming 20 other large urban school districts in the nation.

The fourth-grade students’ average score on the math exam was 237, up nearly 2 percent from an average of 233 in 2015.

Among eighth graders, 36 percent rated proficient in math, ranking No. 3 nationwide among large districts behind students in Austin, Texas, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Their average score was 283 in 2017, up from 280 from the last exam.

A San Diego Unified spokeswoman said the math results, particularly for those in grade 4, come as a relief for the district, which saw a significant drop in math scores in 2015. Officials attributed the dip to the implementation of the Common Core math curriculum and the challenges that came with it.

The district’s long-term upward trend, which has held constant since 2003, appears to be back on track with the addition of 2017 math results.

Mike Casserly, executive director for the Council of the Great City Schools — which represents 69 of the largest urban public school districts in the country — said San Diego “blew the socks off” of the 2017 exams.

“No other city in the country saw gains in both grades in reading and math like San Diego,” Casserly said in a news release. “The gains are evidence of, and testimony to, the serious academic work the school district has been doing over the last several years.”

Bill Lucia, president of the educational advocacy group EdVoice, said not all of the results are worthy of a celebration.

“While San Diego has seen improvement in some areas, gaps between low-income students and their higher income peers have actually widened since 2003 in math, which should be more cause for alarm and action than celebration – particularly since low-income students represent a majority of the district’s enrollment,” Lucia said in an email.

Data show other large districts, including Fresno, Los Angeles and Atlanta, saw scores increase in three out of four exams. Eighth-grade students in Los Angeles averaged four points higher in math and three points higher in reading. Fourth graders in Fresno increased their math scores by three points and reading scores by four points.

Six districts saw decreases across the board in both grades and subjects.

Students in Houston scored an average of 205 on the reading exam last year, down five points from their average score in 2015. Philadelphia students in grade 8 tested an average of seven points lower in math, the largest decrease among all grades and subjects.

The Nation’s Report Card is congressionally-mandated and comes out of the National Center for Education Statistics, a branch within the U.S. Department of Education.

Last year’s test was the first to be administered on tablets. Since 1969, all exams were taken using pencils and paper.

 

Read UT article at http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/education/sd-me-sdunified-exams-20180410-story.html

 

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