New report shows Jacksonville students excel in reading, math

Duval County Public Schools students ahead of curve in Nation's Report Card

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter, Ashley Harding - Reporter, Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Duval County students are ahead of the curve, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The new Nation's Report Card highlighted Duval County for above average scores in reading and math, specifically among fourth-graders.

Duval is one of dozens of districts participating in the Urban District Assessment Program, which measures student performance in school systems across the country, such as Atlanta and Miami-Dade.

“If this were the Olympics, you would say we medaled in almost every event,” said Duval County Public Schools 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.”

It's good news for the county as the Nation's Report Card shows little overall growth since 2015 in math and reading scores for students in the United States.

Math Scores

  • Math scores for Duval County fourth-graders have gone up by five points since 2015.
  • The average math score of fourth-grade students in Duval County was 248.
  • This is higher than the average score of 232 for public school students in large cities.
  • This makes Duval one of only four districts who scored higher in that bracket.
  • Florida was the only state to see an increase in math, as the average scores of both fourth- and eighth-graders increased between 2015 and 2017.
  • Math scores in eighth-grade students showed no growth.

READ MORE:
Grade 4:  The Nation's Report Card- 2017 Mathematics District Snapshot
Grade 8: The Nation's Report Card: 2017 Mathematics District Snapshot

Reading Scores

  • The average score for fourth-grade students was 226.
  • This is higher than the national average of 213.
  • They fared roughly the same as students in Miami-Dade and Hillsborough counties, which includes Tampa. 
  • Eighth-graders also scored higher than the national average.

READ MORE: 
Grade 4: The Nation's Report Card: 2017 Reading District Snapshot
 Grade 8: The Nation's Report Card: 2017 Reading District Snapshot

“We are definitely on the rise,” 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.” 

"When our schools succeed, our students succeed, and when our students succeed, we create a thriving community," she added.

Former DCPS Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti, who left Jacksonville for the same job in Detroit last year, took to Twitter after the results were announced, pointing to his efforts as a reason for the county's high performance.

"Duval County is closer to being the best urban school district in the country now than ever before," Vitti wrote. "Thank you to everyone who supported the reform...and to those who did not...please review the numbers and rankings."

He said he felt he'd accomplished his goal of leaving the district better than it was when he took over.

It isn't just educators taking notice of Duval County's progress either. The report card also means some good news for families.

Karen Lewis, whose granddaughter is among the high-scoring fourth graders, said she has noticed the curriculum puts a greater emphasis on student achievement compared to years past.

"She's very good at math, she's A/B Honor Roll, she's doing good in math, so I think they're doing a good job," said Lewis.

How Florida fared

Results of the 2017 NAEP reading and mathematics assessments show that Florida is the only state to have improved significantly in Grade 4 mathematics, Grade 8 reading and Grade 8 mathematics between 2015 and 2017.

"A large part of today’s success comes from a commitment from Florida taxpayers to continue to invest in Florida schools," Gov. Rick Scott said in a prepared statement. "Every Floridian should be proud of the results that our educators and schools have delivered for our students today.”

Highlights of the 2017 NAEP Reading and Mathematics state and national results include:

  • Florida made more progress than any other state in the nation in 2017, as the only state that showed significant improvement in 3 of the 4 NAEP assessments administered in 2017.
  • Florida students outperformed the nation in Grade 4 Reading, Grade 8 Reading, and Grade 4 Mathematics. 
  • All of Florida’s student subgroups significantly outperformed their national peers in Grade 4 Mathematics. (Subgroups are defined by NAEP as White, Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, students eligible for free/reduced lunch, students with disabilities, and English language learners in 2017.) 
  • All of Florida’s student subgroups outperformed their national peers in Grade 4 Reading, and many of them significantly outperformed their national peers. 
  • Florida is the only state that showed significant improvement in Grade 4 and Grade 8 Mathematics between 2015 and 2017.
  • Florida’s Grade 4 Hispanic students rank No. 1 among the 50 states in reading and mathematics. 
  • Florida’s Hispanic students, Black students, students eligible for free/reduced lunch, and students with disabilities rank No. 1 among the 50 states in Grade 4 Mathematics performance. 

To read the full report card, visit The Nation's Report Card.

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