APS Shows Significant Improvement in 4th Grade Math, 8th Grade Reading on ‘Nation’s Report Card’

District posts growth in all grades and subjects tested since 2015.

Just as every student gets a report card, so does Atlanta Public Schools – directly from the U.S. Department of Education.

Officially, it’s called the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), but it’s also known as the Nation’s Report Card. Quick summary: NAEP is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas. Every two years, NAEP samples students in 4th and 8th grade and assesses them in reading and mathematics. In 2019, NAEP selected approximately 2,500 representative APS students to participate in the assessment.

Now onto the news – and it’s good: APS continues to make gains in all grades and subjects tested since 2015! (See our previous report from Spring 2018 here.)

More specifically, APS continues to make incremental gains. The percentage of students scoring proficient and above has increased in all four tested grades/subjects since 2015; according to NAEP, gains are statistically significant in 4th grade math and 8th grade reading. See Figure 1.

Figure 1. APS NAEP Percentage Proficient and Above, 2015 to 2019

Figure 2 shows the average scale score by grade/subject for APS, Georgia, public schools in large cities nationwide and all public schools. Nationwide, the average 8th grade reading score decreased compared to 2017 (statistically significant). APS scores, however, held steady. Additionally, in 4th grade reading, APS scored similarly to other large city districts and narrowed the gap with other Georgia districts since 2017 (not statistically significant). APS students also narrowed the gap in 8th grade math with other students in large cities and across Georgia, though these changes were not significant.

Figure 2. NAEP Average Scale Score, 2015 to 2019

Figure 3 shows the APS average scale scores by race/ethnicity.  Gaps persist between black/Hispanic and white student achievement.

Figure 3. APS NAEP Average Scale Score by Race / Ethnicity, 2019

NAEP achievement levels provide a breakdown of scale score by below basic, basic, proficient and advanced. These achievement levels do not represent proficiency as defined by the Georgia Milestones Assessments and are not intended to reflect Georgia’s grade-level standards.

APS voluntarily participates in the NAEP assessment as a TUDA district (Trial Urban District Assessment), which is a special assessment group of 27 school districts in large metropolitan areas. By participating in NAEP as the only TUDA district in Georgia, APS is able to receive district-level aggregated scores which are comparable to other TUDA districts, Georgia, and public schools in large cities nation-wide. Note that NAEP results are never reported for individual students or schools.

Additional information about NAEP and APS’ district-level snapshots are available on the NAEP website:  https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/.

We’re encouraged to see the transformation strategies and related investments contributing to significant gains, including APS narrowing the gap with our large urban peers in reading. However, there is still work to be done. We must ensure that our students are more competitive with students from across Georgia and the nation in order to prepare them for college and career and to provide them the opportunity for choice-filled lives.

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