Lackluster NAEP results from Cleveland show that reforms aren't working (yet)

This morning the NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA)
results for Mathematics and Reading were released. The TUDA results look
specifically at 21 large urban school districts that volunteered to have their
NAEP scores reported separately (three of which participated for the first
time; see the complete rundown of cities here).

The TUDA results for both reading and math in the fourth and
eighth grade followed the same trend as the national results that were released
last month: scores show little to no significant change since 2009. At the
fourth-grade level average reading scores did not significantly improve in any
of the 18 districts that previously participated. In eighth grade, the results
are almost the same, with only one district, Charlotte, showing a significant
improvement in its scores from 2009. The results in mathematics are somewhat
more encouraging. Four districts -- Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore City, and Boston
-- demonstrated higher scores than 2009, and ever more encouraging is the fact
that, at the eighth-grade level, six districts performed better than they did
in 2009.

Cleveland, Ohio’s second-largest district, is a TUDA
participant. And like most of the other TUDA cities, its scores in both reading
and math at the fourth and eighth grade level were not significantly different
than 2009.  The district also had lower
overall average scores than the state of Ohio. (For a recap of how Ohio did on
the NAEP see here.)

Cleveland’s results are even more discouraging when compared
to other large cities and to the nation. For example, 68 percent of Cleveland’s
fourth graders scored at a below basic level in reading, compared to 45 percent
of students in other large cities and 34 percent nationally. The same trend
continues when you look at math. Forty-seven percent of fourth graders in
Cleveland scored below basic proficiency, compared to 26 percent in other large
cities and 28 percent nationwide.  

These lackluster results come in the wake of several reform
efforts that Cleveland has been pushing hard for the past 18 months. Almost two
year ago Cleveland launched a far-reaching strategy to improve achievement and
repair the district. Included in the strategy is a systematic way to identify
chronically low- performing schools and address them and more school choice
options for students in the form of alternative schools and charters.  The district has also broken down high schools
into smaller schools focused on specific themes and is moving forward with a rigorous
evaluation system to distinguish highly effective teachers.

Cleveland should be applauded for these efforts; however,
today’s NAEP results show that these nascent efforts have not yet begun to move
the achievement needle.

More By Author