Like the November results of NAEP’s national math and reading report cards, the latest results of the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) are unlikely to inspire many pats on the back. The TUDA, which measures student achievement in twenty-one large urban districts (that volunteer to take the exam), presents a complicated picture of urban student achievement. The nation as a whole made modest gains in fourth- and eighth-grade math and in eighth-grade reading over the last two years; but among the eighteen TUDA districts with test results in 2009 and 2011, only six showed statistically significant improvement in fourth-grade math. Eight posted significant gains in that subject at the eighth-grade level. Worse still, no districts made significant gains in fourth-grade reading, and only one—Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC—improved in eighth-grade reading. Still, these stats are more encouraging if we look at score gains since TUDA’s inception: Since then, many of the participating districts have made large gains in math and reading achievement. In math, nine of the ten original districts saw their fourth graders improve between 2003 and 2011, while thirteen of fourteen posted gains for eighth graders. (Cleveland failed to post any significant improvements in either category.) In reading, all six original districts saw gains among their fourth-grade readers from 2002 to 2011, and four of them have also seen their eighth-grade readers improve. What’s more, beyond the twenty-one TUDA districts, large cities as a whole have made greater strides than the nation across the last decade, though large gaps in performance remain. The TUDA data can be cut many ways (and should be—the online data tool allows users to disaggregate data across multiple subgroups), but the gist of the story remains: Large urban districts have made great strides over the last decade, but still have far to go. What will we do to maintain their upward trajectory?
|Click to listen to commentary on the NAEP TUDA from the Education Gadfly Show podcast.
National Center for Education Statistics, Trial Urban District Assessment 2011 (Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics, 2011).