Return to Headlines

Boston students again outperform urban peers on Nation's Report Card

Boston Public Schools students continue to outperform their peers in nearly every large city across a variety of measures, while BPS educates a far more diverse population than other cities, according to new results released today by the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the “Nation’s Report Card.” The assessment measures academic progress for 4th and 8th grade students.

8th grade math In math, BPS 8th grade students experienced the second-largest gain of any large city, with a 21-point increase in the average score between 2003 and 2013. Only Atlanta was higher, with a 23-point increase. This surpasses the 14-point gain experienced by large cities and the 7-point gain nationally.

Also in math, BPS 4th graders experienced the second-largest gain of any large city, with a 17-point increase in the average score between 2003 and 2013, tied with Atlanta and just behind Washington, DC. The average large city gain was 11 points and the national average jumped by 7 points in the same period.

“The academic progress that Boston has made on the Nation's toughest test over the last 10 years is nothing short of eye popping,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools. “It remains the only city in the Nation to have caught the national average in any grade or subject. The city's implementation of common core standards promises even greater gains for the community's children in the years ahead.”

The data also show impressive scores in reading for 4th grade English Language Learners, who continue to score higher than the national average and higher than their peers in other large cities. Also in reading, low-income 4th grade students outscored the national average by 3 points and beat the large city average by 7 points.

4th grade ELL “We are always proud to outperform other cities, as our mission is to eliminate achievement gaps and ensure a high-quality education for every child in every classroom, in every school,” said BPS Interim Superintendent John McDonough. “This sustained level of high performance is a credit to the leadership of Mayor Menino and our School Committee, and especially our talented teachers, school leaders, parents and students. At the same time, it’s not enough to be one of the best urban school districts in the country or to compete with many suburban districts around the nation. We all recognize that there is a lot of work still to be done.”

Among the other highlights:

  • In Math, in both tested grades, African-American and Hispanic/Latino students in BPS outperformed their peers in other large cities and across the nation.
  • Since 2003, the percent of students reaching “proficient or above” levels has jumped by 10 points for 4th graders and by 6 points for 8th graders in Reading.
  • In mathematics, 8th grade students with disabilities performed on par with the national average and scored significantly higher than students in other large cities. In reading, BPS 4th grade students with disabilities outperformed their peers in large cities and were on par with the national average; in grade 8, students with disabilities performed as well as students in other large cities but were six points below the national average.
  • BPS educates a far higher percentage of English Language Learners and students with disabilities than other districts -- about 35 percent of our students fall into one or both categories; nationally, 15 percent do (and 20 percent for large cities). Among large districts taking part in the Trial Urban District Assessment, BPS has the highest proportion of 4th grade students with disabilities and of 8th grade English Language Learners.
  • BPS general education students in 8th grade have the highest NAEP mathematics score of any other district and score higher than the national average. In reading, BPS 8th grade general education students are tied for first with Austin, TX and Charlotte, NC, and are tied with the national average.
  • Grade 8 Achievement gap While students have made progress across all demographic groups, there remains a significant achievement gap – and white and Asian students consistently outperform Black and Latino students. This gap is approximately the same today as it was in 2003.

Boston was one of 21 urban school districts to participate in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA). In 2003, Boston was one of only ten districts that volunteered to participate in TUDA, which now includes these cities: Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore City, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Washington D.C., Fresno, Hillsborough County (FL), Houston, Jefferson County (KY), Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia and San Diego.

To read the full BPS analysis of the data, click here.
BPS Communications
(617) 635-9265