NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Urban Schoolkids Score Poorly

December 18, 2003

Fourth and eighth graders in the Charlotte, N.C., metropolitan region led the nation this year in the first test to compare reading and mathematics achievement in 10 of the largest urban school districts. However, it was only one of 10 urban districts that had average scores at or above the national average in math and reading -- the district met the national average in reading and exceeded it in math.

The 2003 Trial Urban District Assessment, part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, is called the "nation's report card." It focuses on reading and math scores in 10 of the largest urban school districts, including Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Diego.

  • Charlotte led the country with only 41 percent of the district's fourth graders and 32 percent of eighth graders scoring at or above the proficiency goal in math.
  • The national averages for fourth- and eighth-grade students who performed at that level were 31 percent and 27 percent, respectively.
  • In New York, only 21 percent of fourth graders and 20 percent of eight graders were at or above proficiency in math.
  • Cleveland and Washington scored the lowest in both the math and reading.

The fact that the average scores for all but one of the cities are below the national average in math and reading, reflects the tough road ahead, say educators.

Sources: Kimetris Baltrip, "Charlotte, N.C., Students Lead in National 4th-Grade Math Test," New York Times, December 18, 2003 and "Urban Schoolkids Score Poorly on Tests," USA Today, December 18, 2003.  

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