Nation's Report Card Trial for Large, Urban Districts Grows

For the first time since 2009, the Nation's Report Card will include results from six additional urban school systems as part of the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) program. The National Assessment Governing Board has added districts covering Las Vegas, Denver, Fort Worth, Milwaukee, Greensboro and Memphis to its voluntary study that measures student performance city-wide on math, reading, writing and science in grades 4 and 8. The move signals the demographic and economic shifts of the country's public schools, which now educate a 50 million-student population where more than half are from minority groups.

The governing board sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), otherwise known as the Nation's Report Card. The latest additions bring the number of large, urban school districts in TUDA to 27 as of 2017.

The idea of running a "big-city" version of NAEP came out in 2000, when the Council of the Great City Schools — a coalition of large, urban public districts — requested a "trial" NAEP for that type of school system. Congress gave funding to the effort in 2002 and has since increased the funding, enabling the expansion of TUDA.

The purpose of TUDA, as with NAEP, is to test representative samples of students and report student achievement results for comparison over time. Every TUDA participant is affiliated with a city that has a population of at least 250,000 and a student population where at least half include minority racial or ethnic groups or are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. The districts must also be sizable enough to sustain testing of three NAEP subjects each year in grades 4 and 8.

With the addition of the six new districts, "We now have an ever-greater geographic representation in TUDA," said Governing Board Chair Terry Mazany. "This will provide the nation with an objective picture of the achievement spanning the diversity of our nation's students, recognizing that the majority of students in our nation's schools is now composed of minority populations."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.