Detroit Worst in the Nation in Math and Reading, Scores in Single Digits
It’s easier to survive a nuclear bomb than to survive the race bomb.
FOR THE FOURTH time in a row, Detroit ranked last among urban school districts that participated in a rigorous national test, with students showing no significant improvement in math or reading. (ILLUSTRATION: Some typical citizens of Detroit)
Detroit Public Schools fourth-and eighth-grade students were among children in 21 cities who took the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam as part of the Trial Urban District Assessment.
The Detroit scores showed a slight increase in math proficiency, but also a slight decline in reading proficiency, from 2013 to 2015. The changes were so small they were “not statistically significant,” said Peggy Carr, acting commissioner for the Washington, D.C.-based National Center for Education Statistics.
“Detroit has a bit of work to do,” Carr said during a conference call.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, during a different conference call, echoed the same concern. Duncan in the past has described Detroit Public Schools as “ground zero” for education reform. …
…DPS posted the lowest scores among the 21 cities that voluntarily took part in the urban district assessment. The program tracks how well big-city school districts fare on the reading and math tests, compared with each other and the national average.
In math, 5% of Detroit fourth-graders scored at or above proficient, while 4% of eighth-graders were at or above proficient. Each grade showed a 1 percentage point increase from 2013.
In reading, 6% of Detroit students in fourth grade were at the proficiency level, while 7% of eighth graders were at or above proficient. Those scores were 1 percentage point lower for fourth grade and 2 percentage points lower for eighth grade than two years earlier.
“While these scores clearly indicate that Detroit Public Schools still has much work to do to improve student outcomes in reading and math, we are pleased that the scores appear to be leveling out,” DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said in an e-mail. “Improvements in student achievement are at the center of the restructuring that is currently under way in DPS and is guiding all of the district’s actions and decisions.”
NAEP is the largest nationwide, continuing test of what America’s students know about various subjects. The National Center for Education Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Education, administers the test.
DPS has participated in the urban district assessment since 2009.
Overall nationwide, math scores unexpectedly decreased for both fourth- and eighth-grade students from 2013 to 2015, the first time there has been a significant decline since the math assessment was first administered in 1990, Carr said.
On the reading side, nationwide scores decreased for eighth grade and stayed the same for fourth grade.
In Michigan, there was little difference from 2013 to 2015, a sore point considering students in the state have made little improvement on the national exam in recent years while other states have shown more marked improvement.
Speaking about the national results, Carr said it would be premature to question whether the scores are part of a long-term trend.
How Detroit students fared
The results below are just for public schools, except where noted:
* In fourth-grade math, 5% of Detroit students scored at or above proficient, compared with 34% statewide, 32% in large cities and 39% nationwide (40% nationwide for public and private schools combined).
* In eighth-grade math, 4% of Detroit students scored at or above proficient, compared with 29% statewide, 26% in large cities and 32% nationwide (33% nationwide for public and private schools combined).
* In fourth-grade reading, 6% of Detroit students were at or above proficient, compared with 29% statewide, 27% in large cities and 35% nationwide (36% nationwide for public and private schools combined).
* In eighth-grade reading, 7% of Detroit students were at or above proficient, compared with 32% statewide, 25% in large cities and 33% nationwide (34% nationwide for public and private schools combined).
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