DPS Students Rank Lowest in Math, Reading in U.S. Compared with Big-City Districts

Jennifer Chambers, Detroit News, December 18, 2013

Students in Detroit Public Schools scored the lowest in the nation among big-city districts in math and tied for lowest in reading, according to national test results released Wednesday.

DPS’ fourth- and eighth-graders trailed 20 other large cities that participated in the National Assessment of Educational Progress Trial Urban District Assessment in mathematics, remaining in the bottom rung of test scores since first taking the test in 2009 and again in 2011 and 2013.

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The test, known as TUDA, allows comparisons among large cities and the nation. Other school districts in the assessment include Chicago, the District of Columbia, Houston and New York City. Complete test results for all 21 districts are available here.

Achievement levels on the test fall into four categories: below basic, basic, proficient and advanced.

In all four categories, Detroit had the largest percentage of students who scored below basic in math and reading, meaning they lack fundamental skills in those areas.

In reading, 70 percent of fourth-graders tested below basic, as did 54 percent of eighth-graders. In 2011, 69 percent of Detroit fourth-graders tested below basic in reading, and 57 percent of eighth-graders were below basic.

The test found that 76 percent of eighth-grade students in Detroit scored below basic in math, and 65 percent of fourth-graders.

In 2011, 71 percent of eighth-graders and 66 percent of fourth-graders scored below basic in math. Proficiency rates stayed at 31 percent in math for fourth-graders, but fell from 25 percent to 21 percent in math for eighth-graders.

In eighth-grade math, Detroit saw a 6-point decline from 2011-13, the largest decrease on the test among the 21 urban districts.

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The majority of students in the TUDA are black, Hispanic or from lower-economic households, test officials said. In Detroit, 88 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch due to income status.

The test, which measures student proficiency in cities of 250,000 people or more, was taken by DPS students for the first time in 2009. In reading, DPS students registered historically low scores—the worst in the 40-year history of the test. The same happened in math.

In February 2011, DPS students scored the worst in the nation in science.

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