Miami-Dade received its report card today and according to the Miami Herald, the district's math and reading scores place it at the top of the rankings when compared to other large urban district such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Every other year, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP) tests select districts' math, reading, and other subjects skills. Results from urban districts, called the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), are from cities with populations over 250,000 where the majority of students are black or Hispanic or eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
With 350,000 students, Miami-Dade is the fourth largest school district in the nation. The student population is 62 percent Hispanic and 26 percent black, and a staggering 70 percent qualify for the district's free or reduced lunch program.
On the 2011 NEAP report card, 67 percent of Miami-Dade fourth graders scored at or above grade reading level, one notch up from the national average of 66 percent. In math, 79 percent of fourth graders had basic to advanced skills, just shy of the national average of 81 percent.
Meanwhile, 70 percent of Miami-Dade's eighth graders tested at or above their reading level, five points below the national average. As far as mathematics, only 62 percent of eighth grade students had basic or advanced skills, a full 11 points below the national average.
That means that Miami-Dade's fourth graders ranked sixth in reading and eighth in math out of 22 districts. As the Herald points out, they outperformed urban districts with over 250,000 students. Miami-Dade's eighth graders came in at 5th in reading and 12th in math out of 22 districts. They also outperformed eighth-graders in other large urban districts.
This marks the second year Miami-Dade has participated in NEAP. When compared to the scores in 2009, this year's report card shows a decline at both the fourth and eighth grade reading levels in reading and math.
Despite this fall, Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told the Herald: “Recognizing a number of factors, including growing poverty in our community, the fact that we were able to hold the ground from our 2009 scores, that we remain a national leader in the student achievement, I was fairly gratified.”
After the 2009 NEAP report card, which boasted numbers just a bit higher than this year's, Carvalho announced that Miami-Dade was “the highest-performing urban school district in America.” Wary of such hyperbole, PolitiFact checked the superintendent's statement.
They asked Arnold Goldstein, a NEAP program director in the assessment division to comment on Miami-Dade's performance. They found that in 2009, Miami-Dade outranked 10 other urban districts -- but it also performed similarly to 4 others and was outranked by two districts: Charlotte and Austin.
One aspect Miami-Dade can be commended on is its low achievement gap between minority students and white students. This year, D.C. ranked in the worst gap between black and white students with 64 point disparity in reading skills. Miami-Dade ranked at 29. The district showed an even smaller difference between the academic performance of hispanic and non-hispanic students. It ranked in at 17 points while D.C. showed the worst gap with 51 points.