Test Scores Still on Upswing In Urban School Districts, Report Finds

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Test scores continue to climb in urban school districts, some of which are making greater gains on math and reading assessments than their state averages, a report concludes.

The annual city-by-city analysis, conducted by the Council of the Great City Schools and released here last month, found that some districts also are narrowing the achievement gap between white students and their African-American and Hispanic peers on state tests.

Michael D. Casserly, the executive director of the Washington-based advocacy group for urban school systems, characterized the findings of the report, "Beating the Odds II," as encouraging, pointing to significant improvements in mathematics since last year's analysis.

The council studied the test scores of 57 urban districts in 35 states, examining gains in scores from the first year their state assessments were administered to 2001.

Gains were made in about 87 percent of all grades tested in math and 76 percent of all grades tested in reading in those districts, the analysis found. Roughly 44 percent of all grades tested in the urban districts increased their reading scores faster than the average in their states, while 43 percent did so in math.

Exceeding Averages

Four school systems—Albuquerque, N.M.; Anchorage, Alaska; Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Hillsborough County in Tampa, Fla.—had math and reading scores that exceeded or matched the statewide averages.

Still, Mr. Casserly acknowledged that despite the gains, many of the urban districts' tests scores fall below state and national averages. And the rate of improvement of some districts may not be rapid enough to satisfy their communities, he said.

"We have no choice but to see steady progress," Mr. Casserly said at a June 26 news conference here. "If we start hitting a wall with the test results in five years, we won't meet legislative mandates," especially those contained in the federal "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001, he added.

The council plans to track the cities' student-achievement results annually to emphasize that there is "real movement" academically in urban districts, Mr. Casserly said.

Vol. 21, Issue 42, Page 6

Published in Print: July 10, 2002, as Test Scores Still on Upswing In Urban School Districts, Report Finds
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