Students across the board hold steady compared to national decline
ABOVE: Students at Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy in HISD
Eighth-graders in the Houston Independent School District moved up in rank by one scaled score on the math and reading portions of the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), showing progress compared to students in other large urban districts across the nation.
HISD eighth-graders ranked 10th in math and 16th in reading this year.
Overall, HISD students were able to maintain relatively stable performances, while their peers in public schools across the nation saw a decline. For instance, the national math score for eighth-graders decreased by one point, a statistically significant decline. The test is taken only by the nation’s eighth- and fourth-graders every two years.
“We are pleased to see that our middle school students improved when compared to their peers in large urban districts across the country,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “However, we will continue our initiatives that educate, support, and empower all our scholars so they can shine even brighter on the national academic stage.”
HISD fourth-graders maintained their ranking from 2017 to 2019 by coming in eighth place in math and 19th in reading. Rankings are based on students’ scale scores on NAEP.
NAEP employs the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) to measure larger samples of student performances in 27 urban districts. Participating districts in the 2019 TUDA include Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin.
NAEP exams in math and reading are given at a random sample of schools to randomly selected students to assess progress between districts and at the national and state levels.
“The Houston Independent School District held its own at high levels of performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress as the country declined in most grades and subjects,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, an inner-city public education advocacy group.
Looking at NAEP math scores, fourth-graders in Houston achieved the seventh-highest scale score among the 27 TUDA districts.
All subgroups of fourth-grade math students in HISD had higher average scale scores than their counterparts in the National Public School and Large City NAEP categories. The student subgroups include African American, Hispanic, English Language Learners (ELL), National School Lunch Program participants (NSLP), and White students.
Eighth-grade ELL students showed improvement in the 2019 math assessment, moving up to second in the rankings among TUDAs, just behind Dallas ISD.
HISD’s rank among TUDA districts in fourth-grade reading improved for Hispanic students, from 16th in 2017 to 14th in 2019. Hispanic eighth-grade students jumped six places in the rankings in reading, from 20th in 2017 to 14th in 2019.
African American eighth-grade reading students in HISD outperformed their counterparts in Austin, Fort Worth, and Dallas. They moved up one rank from 15th in 2017 to 14th in 2019.
A total of 6,600 HISD students — half from fourth grade and half from eighth grade — who attend 141 schools took the test in spring 2019.
Houston is unique in its student demographics, as it contains a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students, especially in its Hispanic and African American populations, when compared with the other 26 TUDA districts. HISD also has a population in which 81 percent of students are eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), notably higher than the National Public sample, which is 60 percent.
Additionally, of all jurisdictions that participated in NAEP testing, HISD was in the top 25 percent of urban school districts with the highest percentage of Hispanic students at 65 percent.