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URBAN STUDENTS FALLING BEHIND: Reading and Writing Scores Lag in Six U.S. Cities

Fourth- and eighth-grade students in six large U.S. cities are performing below average in reading and writing when compared to their peers in other parts of the country. In the first ever urban-district study the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tested fourth- and eighth graders in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

The NAEP study found that while the average score for all fourth-grade students in the nation’s public schools was 217, students in the six cities scored much lower at 208. Similarly, the average national score for eighth-graders was 263, but students from the urban centers average score was 254. Of the six cities that participated in the eighth-grade assessment, Atlanta scored the lowest at 236 and Chicago scored the highest at 249.

In the writing assessment, the average score for fourth-grade students in each of the urban districts was lower than the national average score except in New York City and Houston, where the average scores were not significantly different from the national average score. At the eighth-grade level, students’ average scores in all five (New York City did not meet the required participation guidelines for grade eight) urban districts were lower than the national average.

Complete results from the reading and writing assessments are available at:



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