But it also points to some promising results around specific indicators in some cities.
The study takes into account nine indicators around the health of public education—across all public schools in the cities—and does not separate traditional district schools from charter schools.
Among the findings:
- Less than a third of the cities examined made gains in math or reading proficiency over the three-year study span relative to their state’s performance.
- One in 4 students in 9th grade in 2009 did not graduate from high school in four years.
- Forty percent of schools across the cities that were in the bottom 5 percent in their state stayed there for three years.
- Less than 10 percent of all high school students enrolled in advanced-math classes each year in 29 of the 50 cities.
- Less than 15 percent of all high school students took the ACT/SAT in 30 of the 50 cities.
- Low-income students and students of color were less likely to enroll in high-scoring elementary and middle schools than those who were more affluent or were white. (In Los Angeles, for example, Hispanic students were nearly seven times as likely as white students to be enrolled in elementary or middle schools with low math achievement.)
- On average, 8 percent of students in the study cities were enrolled in “beat the odds” schools—those that got better results than demographically similar schools in the state.
- About a 14 percentage-point achievement gap existed between students who were eligible for free and reduced-price meals and those who were not.
- Black students were almost twice as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension as white students. (Baton Rouge, La., was the only city in the study where black students were not more likely to be suspended than white students.)
Among the bright spots in the report was Santa Ana, Calif., where 90 percent of students graduated from high school in four years, and achievement gaps among students in math and reading were among the smallest of the cities studied.
A version of this article appeared in the October 14, 2015 edition of Education Week as Study Lays Out Grim Statistics on Urban Education