School & District Management

Baltimore Schools Chief Sees Urban NAEP Results as Validation of Gains

December 09, 2009 2 min read

As soon as Andrés A. Alonso landed in Baltimore two years ago, the city schools chief began lobbying to bring the district into the Trial Urban District Assessment program, the special administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

For years, people inside and outside Baltimore had believed the city’s public schools were among the worst, if not the worst, in the nation. (Season Four of The Wire didn’t help dispel that image). So Alonso, a transplant from the New York City public schools, wanted hard evidence to show exactly where the district stood among its urban peers. Though the district had begun making gains on state exams, “we had no comparative frame,” Alonso said, because no other districts in Maryland come close to serving as many poor students as Baltimore.

Yesterday, the district saw its first NAEP results spelled out--for 4th and 8th grade mathematics--and found itself mostly in the middle of the pack. At the 4th grade level, Baltimore scored just behind Atlanta and had the same scale scores as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. In the 8th grade, the district was near the bottom, only scoring better than Detroit, the District of Columbia, Cleveland, and Milwaukee.

Alonso had some of his research people break out Baltimore’s results in different ways. Looking only at how African-American students did--and Baltimore had the highest concentration of black students who took the NAEP this year--the district looks better at both grade levels. The district also looked better when it considered only the performance of students who qualify for free and reduced-priced meals.

Mr. Alonso sees the results as a validation of the gains that students have made on state exams over the last few years. Earlier this year, the district shed its designation of “in corrective action” because of the steady academic gains of its elementary students.

“There will always be skeptics when African-American and Latino kids make progress,” Mr. Alonso told me. “They will say that the standards were somehow demoted or that there was cheating, so by doing the Trial Urban Assessment, we could establish beyond a shadow of a doubt that the gains we’ve been making are real.”

Still, the superintendent is not satisfied with the district’s performance and told Baltimore Sun reporter Liz Bowie that he might overhaul the math curriculum.

Here’s how he put it to me: “Now we go back to the drawing board and look at standards and curriculum, and analyze the areas where we show strength and weaknesses,” he said. “And then we’ve got to work toward creating a culture in the district where [NAEP] becomes the higher standard that we move toward.”

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Arizona School Data Analyst - (AZVA)
Arizona, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Proposal Writer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
CCLC Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion New Resource Tracks School System Reopening
The Return to Learn Tracker identifies the current instructional model of all regular public school districts with three or more schools.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School & District Management San Francisco School Board Pauses Renaming 44 Schools, Promises to Consult Historians
The renaming of 44 schools in the San Francisco Unified School District is apparently being put on hold after intense blowback.
Greg Keraghosian
1 min read
A pedestrian walks below a sign for Dianne Feinstein Elementary School in San Francisco, on Dec. 17, 2020. The San Francisco Unified School District put the renaming of 44 schools, including Dianne Feinstein Elementary School, on hold after local and national blowback.
A pedestrian walks below a sign for Dianne Feinstein Elementary School in San Francisco, on Dec. 17, 2020. The San Francisco Unified School District put the renaming of 44 schools, including Dianne Feinstein Elementary School, on hold after local and national blowback.<br/><br/>
Jeff Chiu/AP
School & District Management Superintendent Who Led During COVID-19 School Shutdowns Gets Top Honors
Michelle Reid of Washington state's Northshore district, one of the very first to close schools last March, was named National Superintendent of the Year.
3 min read
Michelle Reid, superintendent of the Northshore district in Washington
Michelle Reid, the superintendent of the Northshore district in Washington, was named National Superintendent of the Year.
courtesy of AASA, the School Superintendents Association
School & District Management Is Lunchtime the 'Weak Link' in School Reopening Plans?
It's risky when students are inside and unmasked, experts say. Here are five ways to mitigate that risk and make in-school meals safer.
11 min read
Elementary students in Brownsville, Texas, eat a socially distanced lunch in the school cafeteria. Experts say there are ways to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19 even when kids take their masks off to eat.
Elementary students in Brownsville, Texas, eat a socially distanced lunch in the school cafeteria. Experts say there are ways to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19 when kids take their masks off to eat.
Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald via AP