When the U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday released mathematics scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Tennessee’s poor showing was not unexpected.
While new NAEP scores show the state ranked 44th in fourth-grade math and 42nd in eighth-grade math in 2008, it was “the bad news” Metro set itself up for in February.
Back then, considering that Nashville’s public school district was experiencing more trouble with No Child Left Behind benchmarks than most districts in Tennessee, and considering Tennessee’s low statewide performance on NAEP tests, it stood to reason that a comparison between Metro Nashville Public Schools and other American cities based on NAEP results would not necessarily yield positive results.
However, Nashville leaders, including the mayor and the Chamber of Commerce, agreed to support MNPS’ participation in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), a project of U.S. Department of Education-run National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). It, according to Mayor Karl Dean, would compare Nashville student performance to kids in other large cities.
Director of Schools Jesse Register also supported the decision, and Board of Education chair David Fox at the time called NAEP the “gold standard” among national student achievement measurements.
“We need to compare ourselves with these other urban areas. … We have not been measuring ourselves at the national level,” Dean said in February. “As a politician, you don’t want to set yourself up for bad news, but you have to do it.”
The bad news was delivered Wednesday through Tennessee SCORE, a statewide education initiative focused on bringing all education stakeholders in the state together to improve K-12 education. SCORE is chaired by former U.S. Senator Bill Frist.
“The NAEP math results by the U.S. Department of Education illustrate Tennessee has a lot of work to do to improve our schools,” said SCORE Executive Director Brad Smith in a statement Wednesday.
“Ranking 44th in fourth grade math and 42nd in eighth grade math means far too many of our students are not receiving the opportunities they deserve,” he added.
Smith said SCORE next week will release a detailed plan for how Tennessee schools can become No. 1 in the Southeast within five years. SCORE will release its final report, “A Roadmap to Success” on Oct. 22.
The Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) is a study designed to assess the feasibility of district-level, rather than statewide, NAEP assessments. School districts participating in the project include Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston and Austin.
Nationally, math scores slightly rose for eighth graders over 2007 results; fourth grade was basically unchanged.
In the South, Georgia showed slight eighth grade improvement. It was the only southern state to show any improvement in math for any grade level.
View the NAEP results online by clicking here.