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National Test Shows Cleveland Students Behind Peers In Science

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An assessment given to urban public school kids in 2009 shows Cleveland students lag behind their peers nationally in science. ideastream’s Michelle Kanu has the report.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Every few years, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, gives tests to random samples of students nationally, statewide, and within select large urban school systems. Results of the urban assessments give educators a snapshot of students’ performance in some of the nation’s biggest cities where a large percent of kids are low income and minorities.

In 2009, only four percent of Cleveland 4th graders and six percent of 8th graders scored proficient in science. That’s far below the average of their peers across 16 other large urban districts that scored proficient - twenty percent and seventeen percent respectively for 4th and 8th graders.

Roseann Canfora, a spokesperson for the Cleveland Schools, downplays the results. She says the district has introduced new science curriculum and materials since the students took the NAEP test two years ago.

Canfora: “A better indication of how students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District are doing in science is the Ohio Achievement Assessments for grades 3 through 8 that measures students on what they know and are able to do in various subjects.”

Canfora believes when students take the urban assessment again this year, their scores will likely improve, just as they have on state tests in recent years.

Most urban districts that participated scored lower than the national average. Austin, Charlotte, and Jefferson County in Kentucky were the exceptions.

Cleveland did better than most other cities in one respect—the performance gap between black, Hispanic and white students is smaller here than nationwide.