April 10, 2018 - Duval County Public Schools has emerged as a national leader in mathematics and reading outcomes on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and the district’s fourth grade students led the way with a No. 1 national ranking in mathematics.
“If this were the Olympics, you would say we medaled in almost every event,” said Superintendent Dr. Patricia Willis. “These results, in addition to our record-high graduation rate, reflect the incredible efforts of our students, our teachers, the district and our community.”
Of those “medals,” five would be considered gold. In addition to the fourth grade overall ranking in math, nation-leading performances came from the district’s African American students in both fourth grade reading and eighth grade math, as well as students with disabilities in fourth and eighth grade mathematics.
“The new NAEP results confirm that Duval County is one of the highest performing big city school districts in the nation,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council for Great City Schools.
The NAEP program has served as the primary measurement of student achievement among the nation’s state education systems. NAEP informs the American public about how students are progressing and enables comparisons among states, large urban districts, and student groups.
Duval County Public Schools participates in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) program of the NAEP. This voluntary accountability program enables large districts to have their scores tallied separately from their states, enabling comparisons among the nation’s largest participating cities. Across the nation, 27 large districts participate in this program including two others in Florida.
Duval students beat the average score for large cities in all four tested areas (fourth and eighth grade math and reading). Duval’s fourth graders also beat the national average for all public schools in both reading and mathematics, which is a significant accomplishment, according to Superintendent Willis.
“We are definitely on the rise,” Superintendent Willis said. “Being an urban district ahead of the national average for all public schools reflects very strongly the way our schools have improved the instructional experience for students. Excellence is our goal, and our schools are moving in that direction.”
Duval County School Board Chairwoman Paula Wright said the results reflect the focus the Board and the District have put on instruction.
“This is our mission,” Wright said. “We work hard to stay focused on the mission and it is now showing in our results. From record high graduation to national leadership in NAEP results, schools in Duval are an asset to attract jobs and economic investment to our community.”
Duval County Public School’s Chief Academic Officer Mason Davis said that the NAEP results are a testament to the hard work and dedication of teachers and students. “Our teachers’ belief in our systems and their ability to mold those systems to meet the needs of individual students are why we are one of the highest performing school districts in the nation,” Davis said.
In addition to the top three results, Duval students had other results in the top 10. Duval’s Hispanic students grabbed the No. 4 ranking in eighth-grade reading. Duval students tied for eighth place in eighth-grade math overall. Students on free and reduced lunch landed in the 10th spot in eighth-grade math.
Duval County Public Schools joined the NAEP district assessment program for mathematics and reading in 2015. The goal of the NAEP district assessment program is to focus on urban education. Application to the program is voluntary. Selection criteria include district size, ratio of African American or Hispanic students and the ratio of students in the district who are eligible for free and reduced school lunch.
Eighth grade mathematics is the only area where Duval was not a clear national leader; it was also the only area where the state of Florida ranked below the national public school average. While it is an area where Duval and Florida schools have work to do, it also suggests a possible disconnect between Florida’s standards and those standards measured by NAEP.
“NAEP is voluntary accountability,” said Superintendent Willis. “NAEP gives us the most reliable reflection of our progress, and it helps us be transparent with the community about our impact on students within the population of similar urban districts.”
Click here to see the presentation given by Dr. Patricia Willis.