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The Nation's Report Card: Trial Urban District Assessment,
Reading Highlights 2003

December 2003

Authors: Anthony D. Lutkus and Arlene W. Weiner


Results of the NAEP 2003 Trial Urban District Assessment

Line graph of average TUDA Reading scores for 2002 and 2003, respectively: for grade 4, Nation 217/216, Large central city 202*/205, Atlanta 195/197, Boston NA/206, Charlotte NA/219, Chicago 193*/198, Cleveland NA/195, District of Columbia 191/188, Houston 206/207, Los Angeles 191/194, New York City 206/210, and San Diego NA/208; for grade 8, Nation 263*/261, Large central city 251/249, Atlanta 236*/240, Boston NA/252, Charlotte NA/262, Chicago 249/248, Cleveland NA/240, District of Columbia 240/239, Houston 248/246, Los Angeles 237/234, New York City See note/252, and San Diego NA/250

* Significantly different from 2003.
† Not applicable. Did not participate in 2002.
1Data for grade 8 for New York City were not published in 2002 because the district did not meet the required 70 percent school participation rate.
NOTE: NAEP sample sizes increased since 2002 compared to previous years, resulting in smaller detectable differences than in previous assessments.
Significance tests were performed using unrounded numbers.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2002 and 2003 Trial Urban District Reading Assessments.


In 2002, five urban school districts participated in NAEP's first Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) in reading and writing. In 2003, nine urban districts (including the original five) participated in the TUDA in reading and mathematics at grades 4 and 8: Atlanta City, Boston School District, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, City of Chicago School District 299, Cleveland Municipal School District, Houston Independent School District, Los Angeles Unified, New York City Public Schools, and San Diego City Unified. Only public-school students were sampled in the TUDA. Results for the District of Columbia public schools, which normally participate in NAEP's state assessments, are also reported.

Average reading scores are reported on a 0–500 scale. The figure above shows the average scores at both grades for the participating districts. The average scores for public-school students in the nation and for public-school students attending schools located in large central cities are also shown for comparison. "Urban districts" refers to the ten districts reported in this trial study. Eight of the ten urban districts consist entirely of schools in cities with a population of 250,000 or more (i.e., large central cities as defined by NCES); two of them (Charlotte and Los Angeles) consist primarily of schools in large central cities, but also have from one-quarter to one-third of their fourth- and eighth-grade students enrolled in surrounding urban fringe or rural areas. All of the data for both districts were used to compare with data from large central cities and the nation.

Average reading scores for fourth-graders in Chicago and for eighth-graders in Atlanta increased between the 2002 and 2003 assessments. Among public-school students in the nation, the average reading score at grade 4 did not change significantly from 2002 to 2003, and at grade 8 the average score decreased. In public schools in large central cities, the average score at grade 4 increased from 2002 to 2003. At both grades 4 and 8, the average scores for each participating district was lower than the nation, except in Charlotte, where the average scores at grades 4 and 8 were not found to differ significantly from those of the nation.

All estimates have a standard error—a range of up to a few points above or below the score—due to sampling error and measurement error. Statistical tests are used to determine whether the differences between average scores are significant, after considering the standard errors. Therefore, not all apparent differences may be found to be statistically significant. All the differences discussed in this report were tested for statistical significance at the .05 level.



NCES 2004-459 Ordering information

Suggested Citation
U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences. National Center for Education Statistics. The Nation's Report Card: Trial Urban District Assessment, Reading Highlights 2003, NCES 2004-459, by A. D. Lutkus and A. W. Weiner. Washington, DC: 2003.

Last updated 10 December 2003 (RH)