New NAEP reading scores released for Atlanta: Shows gains in grade 8.

In Atlanta this morning, the National Assessment of Educational Progress released reading scores for 18 large urban districts including Atlanta, which did not see any improvement in its fourth grade reading scores but was one of only two districts to register a significant climb in its eighth grade scores in what is considered a rigorous test.

The Trial Urban District Assessment is considered an important measure as most of the systems have large numbers of poor, minority children and there is great interest in what reforms are working to move these kids forward.

Atlanta has had the fastest reading gains in any city participating in the trial — 14 points in both fourth and eighth grade scores since 2002. (On the other end, Detroit’s scores are so appalling that at the press conference Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, called the scores “an outrage.”)

Literacy has been a focus of Dr. Beverly Hall, the APS superintendent. “Atlanta students have posted the highest reading gains from 2002 to 2009, compared numerically to schools participating in the Trial Urban District Assessment,” said Hall at this morning’s press conference. “While our work is far from finished, our comprehensive reform model continues to deliver consistent and meaningful results.”

While APS students are still not performing at the state or national averages, Hall said, “Our students are digging out of a deep hole and doing it at a significantly fast rate. Our focus is to continue this trajectory of improvement.”

Joining the press conference by phone, New York City chancellor Joel Klein said the results show that poverty is not destiny. “What we are seeing here in cities like Atlanta and elsewhere, we can change the outcomes for our children. For that we should all take great comfort because the future of the country depends on it.”

Klein praised Hall for her efforts, holding out her leadership and Atlanta’s progress as a national model. “When done right, when done with courage and conviction…I think we are doing to see those kinds of results in the rest of the nation.”

Dubbed the nation’s report card, NAEP is used to gauge overall national education performance.

The tests are given randomly to students across demographics, and there are no individual scores, only group scores. In 2002, urban districts stepped forward to volunteer to be tested every two years. Atlanta was among them.

The NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment tested representative samples of between 800 and 2,400 fourth and eighth grade students in each of the districts. Overall scores in 2009 were lower for most districts when compared to the national average. The nation showed a one-point gain at grade 8 but no change in grade 4 from 2007.

At grade 4, scores for 2009 increased in Boston, the District of Columbia, Houston, and New York City, compared to 2007.  Atlanta scores did not change significantly since 2007. (But scores were higher in 2009 than in 2002 for five districts, including Atlanta.)

At grade 8, Atlanta and Los Angeles were the only two districts that showed reading gains in 2009 compared to 2007 and 2002.  Atlanta 8th graders were five points high over 2007 and 14 points over 2002.

In his statement, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said:

“Today’s report shows that the reading achievement of students in our largest cities has increased over time. At the same time, the results also show that cities have significant work to do. The increases since 2007 weren’t statistically significant in 4th grade. The overall scores of cities are lower than the nation, and the achievement gap in the urban districts is larger than in a nation.

“But the report shows that several cities are leading the way. Of the cities that have participated since the urban district assessments started in 2002, Atlanta and Los Angeles have produced significant increases in reading achievement in both 4th grade and 8th grade. Boston has significant increases since it first participated in the assessment in 2003.

“President Obama has committed unprecedented resources to reform our schools. Through Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation, the administration is supporting states and districts that are creating the next generation of school reforms. Through the Blueprint for Reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the President is supporting schools efforts to prepare success in college and careers with a fair and flexible accountability system that is focused on our lowest-performing schools.

“In cities, towns, and rural areas across the country, we have to work together so that all children are receiving the world-class education they deserve.”

25 comments Add your comment


May 20th, 2010
11:54 am

Gains made because they cheated. You CAN NOT trust this research with the scandal looming over them False test scores provide false results.


May 20th, 2010
12:07 pm

NAEP is not given by the district. The teacher don’t even admister the test. They sit at their desk in the classrooms while the outside agency monitors the test. People from the district don’t even touch the test.


May 20th, 2010
12:09 pm

that should be administer


May 20th, 2010
12:26 pm

Great news for APS! Congrats to those 8th grade students.

former APS teacher

May 20th, 2010
12:57 pm

The real issue here is the regentrification of Atlanta and other metro districts across the country – literacy gains are the result of the changing demographics of the student population rather than increased teaching efficacy on the part of APS. When high-performing students return inside the perimeter, of course the scores will increase. What’s disgusting is that the corrupt administration of APS will take credit for these results. But if current demographic trends continue, they won’t be long in their positions – and neither will the mayor or any of his cronies.

Maureen Downey

May 20th, 2010
1:04 pm

former aps teacher, I took part earlier this week in a Web training session on NAEP data and the NAEP folks were clear that their tests are given to a demographic range, that they have a representative sample and the tests are not only given to better students. In fact, the poverty level of the kids taking NAEP has risen in many of the urban districts participating in the urban trial.

like Twain said

May 20th, 2010
1:29 pm

Lies, Dam Lies, and statistics.

and does B. Hall “non-profit” have anything or connection to NAEP

Attentive Parent

May 20th, 2010
1:39 pm


But what’s the enforcement mechanism to ensure a range?

We know not all schools in APS participate in NAEP nor every student in participating schools.

We also know APS knows it’s under a microscope and that its NAEP scores will be used to evaluate its instructional practices.

How many APS 8th graders does this represent? Is there any reason we cannot get that number and compare it to all APS 8th graders?

What % of the test takers were from Sutton and Inman?

When one of my kids was asked to take it in 8th grade in his very diverse school, every kid taking it had also taken Algebra in 7th and it included all the high scorers on the SAT the previous year.

Does the assumption it’s a representative sample come from details about the actual students involved or the overall diversity of the school they’re in?


May 20th, 2010
2:28 pm

All I can say is…..WOW, go get ‘em Atlanta


May 20th, 2010
2:56 pm

I honestly hope that these scores really do represent an increase in reading for these students.

However, I am one that also doubts any results coming out of APS. Any and all data coming out of those schools will have a cloud hanging over its head until B. Hall resigns and is replaced with someone more honorable.

Ashley Nicole

May 20th, 2010
4:36 pm

I agree with the attentive parent its the students who are reading on a higher grade level that makes this sound oh so exciting. Anyone in the fourth or eighth grades should probably be preforming on a fifth and ninth grade reading level since that would be the next grade they are being promoted to.These stats. sound very flawed to me especially with all the cheating going on.

Show Me

May 20th, 2010
5:13 pm

Hey Everybody! No cheating has been proved in APS. NONE!

[...] Atlanta, it turns out, had the fastest reading gains of any city, boosting scores 14 points in both the fourth and eighth-grade since 2002. [...]


May 20th, 2010
9:17 pm

What is sad is that the ajc and the Good Ole Sonny have discredited any and all of the hard work of the teachers in APS. These teachers work with children that some of the so called “bloggers” on this page would not give the time of day. Maureen wants to know what makes them different that Cobb and Gwinnett. Maybe its the fact that the district is like 92%+ free and reduced lunch or maybe its the fact that in some of the schools the average income is 7000 dollars. Cheating goes on in every district. But for 2/3 of the schools to be flagged, that means that its more to it. If you know anything about the areas some of these schools are located in, you would find it hard to believe that any teachers, principals, or anybody else is sitting at the schools untill 9 or 10 at night changing answers. As an educator in a low income school, I know that my children rush through the test and we HAVE trained them that after they THINK they are done to go back through each and every question. Yes this does result in 3, 4, and maybe even 5 answers being changed. WHY? Because they want to be finished first more than right. Once they are finished then they are ready to be right! Ajc and Sonny only hurt the children by placing a cast over the people who spend their hard earned money and time to work with children in Georgia. I have heard teachers say this year they refused to even walk around the room, or read the directions by the door so the state monitor could see that they were not standing over anyone. It will be interesting to how the state scores look after this blunder. If the AJC has some hard proof then put it out there. There is a big difference from 20 children in summer school getting answers changed and 150 students during the regular test session changing answers.

Joel Klein, Sycophant Hall of Fame Class of 2010

May 20th, 2010
9:28 pm

“When done right, when done with courage and conviction…I think we are doing to see those kinds of results in the rest of the nation.”

Did Joel Klein really just say that the leader of the school system with what may be the biggest educational scandal in Georgia’s history did it “right” with “courage and conviction”.

I wasn’t aware anybody had been convicted yet.

Stressed Educator

May 20th, 2010
10:25 pm

Sadtohear you must be an elementary teacher in APS. Maureen, if you speak with some middle school teachers in APS, you will find out that a larger number of students enter into middle school deficient in a number of academic areas although they have exceeding scores on the previous year’s CRCT. When you get a 5th grade student in the 6th grade who scores an 890(a score of exceeding) on the 5th grade Reading portion of the CRCT but can’t read past a 2nd grade level—something is extremely wrong! Hall says she has always supported literacy, but in fact she has supported the companies who slip her personal cash under the table for using a particular reform model for literacy across the district. If she is so proud of what her district is doing, then why has she NOT released the 2010 CRCT scores? The AJC needs to look into this next. I smell cover up!

Well Maureen?

May 20th, 2010
10:51 pm

Why the silence from Maureen on APS not releasing the CRCT scores? It’s common knowledge they’ve had them for awhile.

Be like Ray in Field of Dreams Maureen; go the distance.

Maureen Downey

May 21st, 2010
12:05 am

@Well Maureen, The state normally releases CRCT scores to the media. It is still in the process of sending scores to districts. We will report on the scores of all the districts.


May 21st, 2010
6:49 am

I have worked with APS for a number of years. With a literacy project in many of their schools. Success of any school goes right back to strong, involved leadership. I don’t know how the results of the CRCT probe will pan out. Many of the schools named were a shock as I have witnessed excellent instruction and successful assessment growth on the alternate assessments we use, others not so much. It can usually be tied back to the leadership. APS has some excellent leaders and then some who really need to rethink their career choice. Their investigation will tell us one thing, but this years scores will tell us another.


May 21st, 2010
8:21 am

On a previous post in response to another article you mentioned the CRCT scores seem high to you this year. With the little bit of info I have so far, I am wondering the same thing. Hope the discussion will come up when all scores come out. Others noticing anything yet?

It has to be asked

May 21st, 2010
6:54 pm

How many ethical shortcuts was Kathy Cox willing to take with this year’s test scores to minimize the cheating scandal? Since she has publicly proclaimed friendship with some of the major figures alleged to have been involved in cheating, it’s a fair question to ask.

She has also proven herself to be more than capable of less than ethical behavior in the past. How much was she willing to let the integrity of the testing process suffer to build a legacy and secure a new paycheck?

Special Education teacher

May 23rd, 2010
12:45 am



May 23rd, 2010
10:30 am

Special Ed. Teacher you are giving wrong info. Parks students performed extremely well on the Reading portion of the test (8th grade), but the math did pose a problem district wide, Parks scores are still higher than the other schools in our SRT. As for your comments about the principal and the BMW LMFAO!

[...] reports are to be found at: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Atlanta Constitution, The San Diego Union [...]


July 22nd, 2010
6:15 pm

It’s a shame when you have so many NON-EDUCATORS who always want to shed negativity on what educators who are professionally trained and called “to teach” do on a daily basis. When teachers put in the hard work, it shows in the results. The negative activity of a few has caused everyone to think that all teachers cheat. Not one of these so call NON-EDUCATORS would last in a classroom of today nor do they really know what takes place in the classrooms of today. This is part of the reason why the educational system is in the predicament today as compared to other nations around the world. Everyone wants to throw in their two cents worth but when it boils down to it, no one values our educators in terms of respect, training, compensation etc. Cultural and have total control. No one gives the profession its respect. I say leave educators alone. Take this same frustation and get this economy going for the betterment of everyone. Let the teachers TEACH!