Council of the Great City Schools
April 2007

The hopeful tone of this latest installment of Beating the Odds is much the same as it's been the last six years. Once again we learn that the country's 66 Great City School districts are raising achievement levels while narrowing achievement gaps. This year's highlights: the percentages of fourth- and eight-graders at or above "proficient" in math and reading have all jumped by at least 8 percentage points and as much as 15 points since 2002. About half of the GCS districts reduced achievement gaps for poor and minority eighth-graders in math and reading; between 60 and 75 percent did so for fourth-graders. Unfortunately, like its predecessors, this report also points out that most urban districts still score below statewide averages in all areas. And the authors preface their findings with numerous important caveats, such as non-comparability of state assessments and the impossibility of testing for statistical significance due to lack of data. (We'd add another one: it's possible that the state assessments themselves are getting easier, which might help to explain these rosy findings.) Still, the authors point out that "the overall direction of the state numbers is corroborated by the most recent estimates from the National Assessment of Education Progress." And they're optimistic that states and cities will continue to improve their reporting systems. The ever-increasing volume of the city-by-city data and individual city profiles (the sections are so large this year that the council is only making them available online) suggests how quickly they're progressing. Access that material and the report itself here.

Item Type: