Wednesday, December 18, 2013

San Diego Unified keeps pace in 'Nation's Report Card'

The latest biennial "Nation's Report Card" released by the US Department of Education shows that the San Diego Unified School District continues to rank near the top of large city school systems across the country.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress reading and math tests administered in 2013 reports that San Diego Unified ranks among the highest performing cities in the nation in fourth- and eighth grade reading and math. The program tests students across the nation and in each state, and it allows the 21 participating cities to compare their results not only to California but to the nation and to other cities outside the state.

Superintendent Cindy Marten indicated that the district received good benchmark data from the assessment that will allow the school district to know where it stands with comparable cities and where reforms will need to focus going forward.

"Our culture of innovation, excellence, and creativity has allowed teachers to concentrate on student achievement, giving San Diego Unified a consistent spot near the top," said Marten. "As we transition to the new Common Core State Standards, our focus is on increasing rigor, pacing, and engagement as we challenge ourselves to come up with new ways to address the persistent achievement gap and achievement in grade 8 math."

In Grade 4 reading, the 2013 score of 218 is up from 2003's score of 208. The national public average this year was 221 with the large-city score at 212. Los Angeles came in at 205 while Fresno students scored 196. Districts topping San Diego Unified nominally were Austin, Texas, and Jefferson County, Ky., 221; Miami-Dade County Fla., 223; Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, N.C., 226; Hillsborough County, Fla., 228. As with mathematics, San Diego scored higher than several cities such as Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Philadelphia. Houston actually posted a significant decline in 4th grade reading scores on the 2013 assessment.

Grade 8 reading saw San Diego students score at 260 in 2013, up from the 250 in 2003. The 2013 average for large cities was 258, while the national average for public schools was 266. Districts topping San Diego Unified were Jefferson County, Ky., and Austin, Texas, at 261; Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, N.C., 266; Hillsborough County, Fla., 267. San Diego scored higher than cities such as Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston.

In Grade 4 math, San Diego Unified's scores have risen to 241 in 2013 from 226 in 2003--right at the national average and substantially above other large city schools. The comparable Los Angeles score was 228 and Fresno's was 220. Districts with somewhat higher scores than San Diego Unified were: Hillsborough County, Fla., 243; Austin, Texas, 245; and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., 247. San Diego scored higher than cities such as Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and New York City.

In Grade 8, math, San Diego's 2013 score of 277 was up from the 264 in 2003. The 2013 average for large cities was 276, while the national average for public schools was 284. Districts topping San Diego Unified were Houston, 280; Boston, 283; Hillsborough County, Fla., 284; Austin, Texas, 285; and Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, N.C., 289. Among California districts, Los Angeles was 205 and Fresno, 196. San Diego out-scored cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

"Over the last decade, the San Diego schools have posted some of the largest academic increases of any city nationwide -- something that is very hard to do given its already high academic achievement compared with other cities," said Michael Casserly, Executive Director of the Council of the Great City Schools. "This is particularly impressive given the frequent leadership transitions, major personnel changes, and significant budget cuts that the school system has experienced over that period. We are enormously optimistic about the reforms that the school system is launching under its new superintendent."

Data on individual schools is not provided by this study. For more information, visit the NAEP/TUDA website at