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The Nation's Report Card: 
Trial Urban District Assessment Science 2009

February 2011

Author: National Center for Education Statistics

PDF Download The Nation's Report Card: Trial Urban District Assessment Science 2009 PDF for viewing and printing (10282K PDF)


Image of the cover of the 2009 Science Trial Urban District Assessment report.

Executive Summary

Students in most participating districts score lower than the nation in 2009

A New Science Assessment

Four districts score above large cities at both grades in 2009

A Closer Look at District Results Compared to Large Cities

Demographics vary among the nation, large cities, and individual urban districts

Results from the 2009 NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) make it possible to compare the performance of public school students in participating urban districts to public school students in the nation and, more specifically, students in large cities (i.e., cities with populations of 250,000 or more) across the nation.

Students in most participating districts score lower than the nation in 2009

Science results are based on representative samples of fourth- and eighth-grade public school students from the 17 urban districts that volunteered to participate in the 2009 assessment. Between 900 and 2,200 students were assessed at each grade in each of the participating districts.

At grade 4, the average score in large cities overall and the average scores in 14 of the 17 participating districts were lower than the average score for the nation. Scores for Austin, Charlotte, and Jefferson County were not significantly different from the score for the nation.

At grade 8, the average score in large cities overall and the average scores in 16 of the 17 districts were lower than the average score for the nation. The score for Austin was not significantly different from the score for the nation.

Comparison of national and district average science scores in 2009

 Image lists the score point differences for “large city” and 17 districts compared to the nation for grades 4 and 8. The average science scores for the nation at grade 4 = 149 and at grade 8 = 149.  Compared to the nation, the average science score point difference for: Large city is 14 points lower at grade 4 and 15 points lower at grade 8. Atlanta is 15 points lower at grade 4 and 22 points lower at grade 8. Austin is less than 2 points lower at grade 4 and 1 point different at grade 8; neither difference is significant. Baltimore City is 31 points lower at grade 4 and 35 points lower at grade 8. Boston is 10 points lower at grade 4 and 19 points lower at grade 8. Charlotte is 1 point different at grade 4, which is not significant, and 8 points lower at grade 8. Chicago is 24 points lower at grade 4 and 27 points lower at grade 8. Cleveland is 34 points lower at grade 4 and 27 points lower at grade 8. Detroit is 38 points lower at grade 4 and 35 points lower at grade 8. Fresno is 27 points lower at grade 4 and 24 points lower at grade 8. Houston is 13 points lower at grade 4 and 11 points lower at grade 8. Jefferson County (Kentucky) is 1 point different at grade 4, which is not significant, and 3 points lower at grade 8. Los Angeles is 25 points lower at grade 4 and 25 points lower at grade 8. Miami-Dade is 5 points lower at grade 4 and 11 points lower at grade 8. Milwaukee is 23 points lower at grade 4 and 26 points lower at grade 8. New York City is 13 points lower at grade 4 and 19 points lower at grade 8. Philadelphia is 28 points lower at grade 4 and 30 points lower at grade 8. San Diego is 5 points lower at grade 4 and 11 points lower at grade 8. 

1 Large city includes students from all cities in the nation with populations of 250,000 or more including the participating districts.
NOTE: The score-point differences appear within each symbol and are based on the differences between the unrounded scores for the nation and the district as opposed to the rounded scores shown in figures presented in the report. A score-point difference preceded by a minus sign (-) indicates that the score for the district was numerically lower than the score for the nation.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2009 Science Assessment.

A New Science Assessment

The NAEP science assessment was updated in 2009 to keep the content current with key developments in science, curriculum standards, assessments, and research. Because of the recent changes to the assessment, the results from 2009 cannot be compared to those from previous assessment years; however, they provide a current snapshot of what fourth- and eighth-graders in participating urban districts know and can do in science that will serve as the basis for comparisons on future science assessments.

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Four districts score above large cities at both grades in 2009

Among the 17 urban districts that participated in the 2009 science assessment, scores for both fourth- and eighth-graders in 4 districts were higher than the scores for their respective peers attending public schools in large cities overall. Scores for both grades in 8 districts were lower than the scores for large cities nationally.

In comparison to the average scores for large cities in the nation,

orange key

Austin, Charlotte, Jefferson County (Louisville, KY), and Miami-Dade had higher scores at both grades;

green key

scores in San Diego were higher at grade 4 and not significantly different at grade 8;

brown key

scores in Boston were higher at grade 4 and lower at grade 8;

teal key

scores in Houston were not significantly different at grade 4 and higher at grade 8;

beige key

scores in Atlanta and New York City were not significantly different at grade 4 and lower at grade 8; and

dark brown key

Baltimore City, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Fresno, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia had lower scores at both grades.


Comparison of district and large city average science scores in 2009

 Image of a map of the United States showing the locations of the different districts.

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A Closer Look at District Results Compared to Large Cities

Differences in overall average scores between participating districts and large cities were not always consistent across student groups. In Boston, for example, the overall average science score was lower than the score for large cities at grade 8. However, the scores for White, Black, and Hispanic students in the district were not significantly different from the score for their peers in all large cities.

Among the four districts where overall scores were higher than the score for large cities at both grades 4 and 8, Charlotte was the only district to have higher scores for White, Black, and Hispanic students, and for students eligible for school lunch (an indicator of lower family income) at grade 4. Austin was the only district to have higher scores for White, Black, and Hispanic students, and for students from lower-income families at grade 8.

Among the eight districts where average scores at both grades were lower than the score for large cities, scores were lower for racial/ethnic groups with samples large enough to report results and for students from lower-income families at both grades in Baltimore City and Philadelphia.

Comparison of district and large city average science scores in 2009

District Grade 4 Student Groups
Overall
White
Black
Hispanic
Eligible for school lunch
Atlanta
no significant difference
higher
higher
reporting standards not met
lower
Austin
higher
higher
no significant difference
higher
higher
Baltimore City
lower
lower
lower
reporting standards not met

lower

Boston
higher
no significant difference
higher
higher
higher
Charlotte
higher

higher

higher
higher
higher
Chicago
lower
no significant difference
lower
no significant difference

lower

Cleveland
lower
lower
lower
lower
lower
Detroit
lower
reporting standards not met
lower
no significant difference
lower
Fresno
lower
lower
lower
lower
lower
Houston
no significant difference

higher

higher
higher
higher
Jefferson County (KY)

higher

no significant difference

higher

no significant difference
higher
Los Angeles

lower

lower
no significant difference
lower
lower
Miami-Dade
higher
higher
no significant difference
higher
higher
Milwaukee
lower
no significant difference
lower
no significant difference
lower
New York City
no significant difference
no significant difference 
no significant difference
no significant difference

higher

Philadelphia

lower

lower
lower
lower

lower

San Diego
higher
no significant difference
no significant difference
no significant difference
no significant difference

District Grade 8 Student Groups
Overall
White
Black
Hispanic
Eligible for school lunch
Atlanta
lower
reporting standards not met
no significant difference
reporting standards not met
lower
Austin
higher
higher
higher

higher

higher

Baltimore City
lower

reporting standards not met

lower

reporting standards not met

lower

Boston
lower
no significant difference
no significant difference

no significant difference

no significant difference

Charlotte
higher
higher
higher
no significant difference
no significant difference
Chicago
lower
lower

lower

no significant difference

lower

Cleveland
lower
lower
no significant difference
no significant difference
no significant difference
Detroit
lower
reporting standards not met
lower
no significant difference

lower

Fresno
lower
lower
no significant difference
lower
lower
Houston
higher
higher
higher
higher

higher

Jefferson County (KY)
higher
no significant difference
higher
reporting standards not met
higher
Los Angeles
lower
lower
lower
lower
lower
Miami-Dade
higher

no significant difference

no significant difference
higher
higher
Milwaukee
lower
lower
lower
no significant difference
lower
New York City
lower
lower

no significant difference

lower
no significant difference
Philadelphia
lower
lower
lower
lower
lower
San Diego
no significant difference
no significant difference
no significant difference

no significant difference

no significant difference

higherHigher average score than large city.

lower Lower average score than large city.

no significant difference No significant difference between the district and large city.

reporting standards not met Sample size insufficient to permit a reliable estimate.

NOTE: Black includes African American, Hispanic includes Latino, and Pacific Islander includes Native Hawaiian. Race categories exclude Hispanic origin.

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Demographics vary among the nation, large cities, and individual urban districts

When comparing the results for urban districts to results for the nation and large cities, it is important to consider how the demographics of the jurisdictions are different. Nationally, the percentages of White students at both grades 4 and 8 were higher than the combined percentages of Black and Hispanic students in 2009, while the opposite was true for large cities and for most of the participating urban districts.

Large cities and participating urban districts also differed from the nation in the proportion of students eligible for the National School Lunch Program. While the percentages of students eligible for free/reduced-price school lunch in the nation were 48 percent at grade 4 and 43 percent at grade 8, the percentages of eligible students in the districts ranged from 47 to 100 percent.

More detailed information about the demographic characteristics of fourth- and eighth-graders in the nation, large cities, and participating districts is included in this report.

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Download the complete report in a PDF file for viewing and printing:

PDF The Nation's Report Card: Trial Urban District Assessment Science 2009 report PDF (10282K PDF)

NCES 2011-452  Ordering information


Suggested Citation
National Center for Education Statistics (2011). The Nation's Report Card: Trial Urban District Assessment Science 2009  (NCES 2011–452). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.

For more information, see the results of the 2009 Science Trial Urban District assessment on the Nation's Report Card website.

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Last updated 18 February 2011 (RH)
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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
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