Dallas ISD students largely mirror U.S. trends in national assessment of student progress

According to the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) scores in both fourth-grade reading, and eighth-grade math and reading, held steady from the previous year. The test, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, is administered every two years.

This is the fourth time, since 2011, that Dallas ISD has participated in the Trial Urban District Assessment, or TUDA, and is the first year the nation’s students tested with an online digital-based assessment.

Overall, Dallas’ fourth-grade math scores are still above those in comparable large cities, despite a slight decrease. The scores for eighth-grade math were not significantly different compared to 2015. Students in both fourth- and eighth-grade reading trended lower. However, the decrease in performance was not statistically significant.

“I’m disappointed in the fourth-grade math scores, but one of the reasons we believe in NAEP is that we want to know how our students compare not only in Texas, but throughout the country,” said Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa. “Although the state assessment data shows promising trends with positive gains, over the last three years, we also need to show that kind of progress nationally.”

Dallas is unusual in its student demographics, as it contains a high percentage of low socio-economic students, especially in its African-American and Hispanic populations when compared to the other 26 TUDA districts. For example, when comparing fourth-grade African-American and Hispanic math students who are eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) to other districts, Dallas’ numbers rank in the top end.

Of significant note, fourth- and eighth-grade English language learners in Dallas ISD performed higher than their peers in the nation’s public schools and large cities.

“The Dallas school district showed important results for English language learners and African-American students eligible for free and reduced priced lunch, where others across the country and in Texas did not,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, based in Washington, D.C. “Otherwise, much of Dallas’ result reflect the same trends that one sees across the state of Texas. The results also suggest that Dallas, like other big city school systems across the country, will need to invest more in technology as the national assessment is administered from now on, on a digital base,” Casserly said.

The NAEP is known as The Nation’s Report Card because it is the only nationally representative assessment of what U.S. students know and can do in core subjects such as mathematics, reading, science and writing. It reports on student achievement at the national and state levels. Participating districts in the 2017 TUDA include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Austin and Fort Worth. In 2017, 298,200 fourth-graders and 286,800 eighth-graders took the assessments, which were administered between January and March.

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