Public schools in our nation’s cities face immense challenges. Nearly 70 percent attend public schools in which more than half of the enrollment qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch. This type of concentrated disadvantage can make it difficult to provide a quality education that improves outcomes for these children.
The US Department of Education has released 2015 results for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) - administered in 22 large cities – and this year’s results are not promising for urban students. In 2015, the mathematics scores were lower than in 2013 for the large cities as a whole in both 4th and 8th grade, while reading scores were lower in 4th grade and unchanged in 8th. In 4th grade reading, 40 percent of students in these large cities scored Proficient or above, which was the highest of any subject/grade. The others were closer to one-third Proficient. We need to do better than having two-thirds of our city students below proficiency. However, these results do not hold for all students.
Charter school students in Los Angeles, CA, once again, outperformed students in Los Angeles district-run schools, in California and in the nation as a whole. While, only 17 percent of students in Los Angeles district-run schools scored Proficient or above in reading and math (13 percent in 8th grade reading) on the 2015 TUDA, approximately half of all charter school students did.
Not surprisingly, the situation is reversed on the other end. There were about 500,000 students in Los Angeles district-run schools last year and about half of them did not even score at the Basic level.
Los Angeles has the most charter school students of any large city – about 150,000 last year. Looking at these latest results, I would say they should have more.