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Jack Buckley
Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics

National Assessment of Educational Progress
NAEP 2013 Mathematics and Reading TUDA Results

December 18, 2013

Today the National Center for Education Statistics is releasing the results of the NAEP 2013 Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) for mathematics and reading. TUDA assesses the performance of public school students at the district level using the same NAEP assessments that were administered at the national and state levels. It is a collaboration involving the National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES, along with the National Assessment Governing Board, and the Council of the Great City Schools.

Participation in TUDA is voluntary. It began with six districts (Atlanta, Chicago, District of Columbia Public Schools, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York City) who volunteered for the first TUDA assessment conducted in reading in 2002. In 2003, four more districts (Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland and San Diego) were added for a total of 10. Austin was added in 2005. In 2009, seven more districts were added (for a total of 18): Baltimore City, Detroit, Fresno, Jefferson County in Kentucky, Miami-Dade, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia. In 2011, we added Albuquerque, Dallas, and Hillsborough County, FL bringing our total to 21. These same 21 large urban districts participated in the 2013 TUDA.


Our samples for the 2013 mathematics and reading assessments consisted of public school students at grades 4 and 8. The samples ranged in size from about 900 to 2,300 students per district per grade. The variation in sample size among districts is large because the districts themselves differ dramatically in size. For all of our districts, regardless of size, we have samples that provide reliable results for comparisons both over time and among districts.

We report student performance in two ways: as scale scores and as percentages of students at or above three achievement levels. NAEP scale scores indicate what students know and can do. For mathematics and reading we have separate scales, each ranging from zero to 500. Achievement levels were developed by the National Assessment Governing Board. They set standards for what students should know and be able to do at each level. For each subject and for each grade, the Governing Board has established standards for Basic, Proficient, and Advanced performance. Ultimately, the goal is to have all students performing at or above the Proficient level.

We compare the districts' performance to the national average score for public school students and the average score for public school students in large cities—defined as those with a population of at least 250,000, including the participating districts. We developed this "Large City Average" for comparison purposes because the student populations of our large urban districts tend to vary from the national average.

When comparing scores and other NAEP results we only discuss differences that are statistically significant. In the figures that follow, we will be using asterisks and up and down arrows to indicate differences that are statistically significant.

District score changes between 2011 and 2013

Scores for the nation improved in mathematics at both grade 4 and grade 8, and in reading at grade 8 since 2011. Scores in large cities as a whole increased in grade 4 mathematics and grade 8 reading. Ten of the 21 TUDA districts recorded a score increase or decrease in at least one subject/grade combination in 2013 as compared to 2011. Some of the notable results included the District of Columbia where scores increased for all four grade/subject combinations. Students in Los Angeles scored higher in three of the four subject/grade combinations (in grade 4 mathematics and in reading at both grades 4 and 8) and in Fresno eighth-graders scored higher in mathematics and reading. In Detroit, the average score fell for grade 8 mathematics, and in Houston it fell for grade 4 reading.

In Atlanta, Chicago, and the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), the increases were larger than the national and large city increases in grade 4 mathematics, and the same was true for the District of Columbia in grade 8 reading.

For the other 11 districts there were no significant changes in scores from 2011 to 2013.

Student groups score changes between 2011 and 2013

In mathematics, four districts had overall increases at grade 4—Atlanta, Chicago, the District of Columbia, and Los Angeles. In all four, lower-income students—those eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches—showed an increase. In three of the four—all except Chicago—scores increased for Black students. In Los Angeles, scores increased for White, Black, and Hispanic students.

In Jefferson County, the overall score did not change significantly from 2011 to 2013. However, the average score for Hispanic students declined.

At grade 8, three districts had higher overall mathematics scores compared to 2011—Charlotte, the District of Columbia, and Fresno. In all three cases, lower-income students had higher scores.

In Cleveland, there was no significant change overall, but the score for White students declined. In Detroit, the overall score did decline, as well as the scores for Black, Hispanic, and lower-income students.

For reading at grade 4, the District of Columbia and Los Angeles had a higher score overall in 2013 than in 2011. None of the student groups (White, Black, Hispanic, or lower-income students) in the District of Columbia had an increase. In Los Angeles, however, lower-income students showed an increase.

In Houston, the average score for grade 4 reading declined. There were no statistically significant changes in scores for any of the individual student groups listed above.

At grade 8, five cities had overall score increases in reading since 2011. In all five, scores increased for lower-income students. In the District of Columbia, scores increased for White, Black, and Hispanic students as well.

In Milwaukee, there was no score increase overall. However, the score for Hispanic students did increase.

Districts compared to large cities in 2013

In 2013, a number of districts had higher scores than the large city average. Austin, for example, had higher scores than the large city average in both mathematics and reading for both grades, and this was true for Charlotte and Hillsborough County as well.

Boston and Houston had higher scores for grade 8 mathematics, while Jefferson County had higher scores for both grade 4 and grade 8 reading. Miami-Dade, New York City, and San Diego all had higher scores for grade 4 reading.

A number of districts had scores in 2013 that were lower than the large city average. In Albuquerque, the grade 4 reading score was lower than the large city average. In Atlanta, scores in grade 8 reading and mathematics were lower than the large city averages, while in Dallas and Houston the grade 4 and grade 8 reading scores were lower. And in nine of the districts, scores were lower than the large city averages for both grades in both subjects.

Large cities compared to the nation

We can also compare the large city average to the national average for public school students. Since 2003, grade 8 mathematics scores for both the nation and large cities have improved. In 2003, the score for the nation was 276, 14 points higher than the large city average of 262. In 2013, both groups had higher scores than in 2003 and the gap had fallen to 8 points, because the increase for large cities was larger than the increase nationally.

The nation and large cities have shown score increases in all four subject/grade combinations since the first TUDA mathematics assessment in 2003 and the first TUDA reading assessment in 2002. The increase for large cities was larger than the nation as well—again, in all four cases.

Percentages at or above Basic in large cities increase since 2003

Improvement in student performance since the early TUDA assessments can also be seen by looking at the percentages of students scoring at or above the Basic achievement level and those scoring at or above the Proficient achievement level.

In 2003, 37 percent of fourth graders scored below Basic in mathematics, 63 percent scored at or above Basic, and 20 percent scored at or above Proficient. In 2013, the percentage below Basic fell to 25 percent in mathematics at grade 4, while the percentages at or above Basic and at or above Proficient increased to 75 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

The percentages at or above Basic and at or above Proficient were higher in 2013 than in 2003 in mathematics at grade 8. Similar results were shown for reading at grades 4 and 8.

District Score Changes between 2003 and 2013

Now we'll look at score changes for the individual districts in mathematics since the first TUDA mathematics assessment, beginning with grade 4. Since the 2003 assessment, grade 4 mathematics scores have increased for 9 of the 10 participating districts. For six of the districts, the size of the increase was larger than the 7-point increase for the nation as a whole, ranging from a 24-point increase for the District of Columbia to a 13-point increase for Los Angeles.

We see a similar story at grade 8, where nine of the districts had higher mathematics scores in 2013 than in 2003. The increase in scores nationally was again 7 points, and in this case seven districts had larger increases than the nation. The gains ranged from 23 points for Atlanta to 13 points for San Diego.

If we compare 2013 grade 4 reading scores to those in 2003, we see that 8 of the 10 districts showed increases. For five of these districts, the increase was larger than the 4-point increase for the nation, ranging from 18 points for Atlanta to 8 points for Boston.

At grade 8 reading, 9 of the 10 districts had higher scores in 2013. Three of these districts—Los Angeles, Atlanta, and San Diego—had larger gains than the 5-point increase for the nation.

The 2013 TUDA Mathematics and Reading Report Card website provides extensive profiles of each of the 21 districts. Users can make comparisons over time and can compare a district's score to the nation, the large city average, and the average for the district's home state. They can also obtain extensive information on the performance of student groups within each district.

That completes my overview of results from the 2013 TUDA mathematics and reading assessments. There is much more information on our new interactive website, which also gives access to the NAEP Questions Tool, providing extensive information on all released NAEP questions, and to the NAEP Data Explorer, our online data-analysis tool. These can be accessed at

In closing, I would like to thank the students, schools, and districts who participated in these assessments. Thank you very much.