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DC Shows Stagnant Scores on Nation’s Report Card

Wednesday, April 11, 2018
2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress Results Released Today

Washington, DC - With today’s release of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, known as the Nation's Report Card, results nationally and within the District of Columbia show little growth in math and consistently flat scores in reading since 2015. The biennial assessment is considered one of the most reliable measures of student achievement for elementary and secondary students in the U.S.

Karen Williams, Ward 7 Representative and President of the DC State Board of Education, said, “Every moment of success a student achieves should be celebrated, but when the majority of District students are not proficient in reading or math, we must determine what isn’t working. This year’s NAEP and TUDA results indicate that the District should review its early literacy practices to ensure we are setting all students up for success. We are also past due for some very hard conversations about equity, school funding and our future to improve the system for all of our children. The NAEP results should light a fire in all of us to do better, to do more, to do all we can for our children.”

The District’s NAEP results showed:

  • 32 percent of fourth grade students were at or above the NAEP proficient level in math, as compared to 31 percent in 2015 and 5 percent in 2000.
  • 29 percent of fourth grade students were at or above the NAEP proficient level in reading, as compared to 27 percent in 2015 and 10 percent in 1998.
  • For eighth grade students, 20 percent were at or above the NAEP proficient level in reading, as compared to 19 percent in 2015 and 11 percent in 1998.
  • 21 percent were at or above the NAEP proficient level in math, as compared to 19 percent in 2015 and 6 percent in 2000.

The data show that despite significant funding and effort devoted to reducing the disparities in educational outcomes between white students and black students, large achievement gaps remain in reading and math. In the District, the black-white achievement gap did decrease in reading – but, as Dr. Peggy Carr, Acting Commissioner at the National Center for Education Statistics, noted in a presentation releasing the NAEP results, the gap narrowed in the District not because black students’ scores rose relative to 2015, but because white students’ scores fell.

The District also took part in the Trial Urban District Assessment, or TUDA. The assessment, which was first offered to urban districts in 2002, is a voluntary measure that tracks outcomes in districts with over 250,000 students with populations that are majority black, Hispanic, and/or low-income. As with NAEP, the District’s TUDA scores were relatively flat between 2015 and 2017; there were no significant changes in fourth or eighth grade reading or math achievement. Fourth grade reading and math scores in the District are average for large urban cities, and eighth grade reading and math scores are below the average for large urban cities.

For more information about the DC State Board of Education visit sboe.dc.gov.