The Council of the Great City Schools deserves plaudits for its ever-greater willingness to speak candidly about educational achievement (as well as its vigorous efforts to boost that achievement). Recently, the Council released a quartet of reports on how America's urban schools fare on four widely used and keenly watched external benchmarks: The SAT I test, the ACT tests, Advanced Placement exams, and the Stanford Achievement Test. Although no district-level data are provided (except for some ACT results), there's a wealth of information here about how America's urban schools and students are faring on these indicators and a lot of very interesting analysis, some leading to familiar results, some to less obvious conclusions. (Forthcoming on May 22 is yet another report from the Council on how urban districts are doing on state achievement tests.) For copies or additional information, contact the Council at (202) 393-2427 or surf to the press release, readable at

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