Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics
National Assessment of Educational Progress
NAEP 2005 Mathematics and Reading Trial Urban District (TUDA) Results
December 1, 2005
Good morning. My name is Mark Schneider. I am the Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. I am here today to release findings from the National Assessment of Educational Progress 2005 Trial Urban District Assessment for both reading and mathematics - what we call the NAEP TUDA assessments.
Background of the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA)
The TUDA assessments are the newest part of NAEP. As the name implies, these are trial assessments, and they have not yet been made a permanent part of NAEP. NAGB and NCES worked with the Council of Great City Schools to create the first TUDA assessment in 2002, in reading and writing. The urban school districts included in these assessments volunteered to participate.
A primary purpose of NAEP is to provide a common yardstick for comparing results among jurisdictions. While the states and some school districts use their own tests to measure their students' performance, these tests differ from each other and it is difficult to compare their results. The NAEP assessments given at the national, state, and urban district levels are the same in each subject, at each grade tested.
In 2002, five districts participated-Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York City. For comparison purposes, we also include results for the District of Columbia, which participates in the NAEP state assessments. In 2003, TUDA assessments were given in reading and mathematics in nine districts: in addition to the 2002 participants, Boston, Charlotte-Mecklenberg, Cleveland, and San Diego also participated. In 2005, Austin was added, and the assessments were given in reading and mathematics. The sizes of the districts' student populations range from about 50,000 in Atlanta to about one million in New York City.
Overview of the 2005 Trial Urban District Assessments
We administered TUDA as part of the regular NAEP assessment, with a range of 1,100 to 2,400 students per district per grade being sampled in each subject. We report NAEP results in terms of both scale scores and percent at or above achievement levels. Scale scores for both the fourth and eighth grades are presented on a 0 to 500 point scale. These scores measure what students know and can do. Results are also reported according to three achievement levels established by the National Assessment Governing Board. These levels set standards for what students should know and be able to do. The three achievement levels are defined as Basic, Proficient, and Advanced.
We compare the performance in the 11 districts with the average scores and achievement level percentages for fourth- and eighth-graders in public schools nationally and for those attending public schools in what we call "large central cities." NCES defines "large central city" as a central city with a population at or above 250,000. Examples of large central cities are Lexington, Kentucky and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The urban school district students differ in demographic composition from the nation as a whole. For example, in the reading assessment at grade 4, the public school populations of the 11 TUDA districts were 60 percent or more nonwhite. In comparison, the nation's public school population was about 43 percent nonwhite.
Urban districts vary widely in their percentage of students with special needs. Thus, caution should be used in interpreting results and making comparisons. In reading at grade 4, for example, the percentage of all students who were identified as either students with disabilities or English language learners ranged from 11 percent in Atlanta to 59 percent in Los Angeles, and the national percentage for public schools was 23 percent.
Some of these students were assessed with accommodations, such as being tested in small group sessions or being given extra time, and some could not participate and were excluded. The percentage of all fourth-graders who were assessed in reading with accommodations ranged from 2 percent in Houston to 16 percent in New York City, with a national public school percentage of 7 percent.
The percentage of all fourth-graders who were excluded from the reading assessment ranged from 4 percent in Atlanta and Charlotte to 23 percent in Houston, with a national percentage of 7 percent. Exclusion rates were generally lower in the mathematics assessments because of the availability of additional accommodations such as spanish translations and having test questions read aloud.
Overview of Results
I will first present an overview of results for each grade, over time and in 2005.
I will now present a closer look at the fourth- and eighth-grade results in mathematics, and then go on to reading.
It should be kept in mind that NAEP assessments are based on samples and with samples there is a margin of error associated with each score. When we make comparisons between scores, or compare the percentages of students at the various achievement levels, we test the differences to see if they are larger than the margin of error involved-differences that we call statistically significant. These differences are indicated by asterisks or arrows in the tables and charts in the reports.
The fourth- and eighth-grade results in reading are as follows.
For More Information
That completes my overview of results from the 2005 TUDA mathematics and reading assessments. There is much more information in the Report Cards themselves. In addition, the NAEP initial release website-http://www.nationsreportcard.gov-contains extensive information on the performance of students in each district, access to released assessment questions, and use of the NAEP Data Explorer, our new online data analysis tool.
In closing, I would like to thank the schools and their students who participated in these assessments. I would also like to thank my staff and the contractors who made these assessments a success.