Blog: The Educated Reporter

Nation’s Report Card: Honest Progress in Atlanta Schools?

For the most part, the National Assessment of Educational Progress results are shared only at the state level. The National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees “The Nation’s Report Card,” has been slowly adding districts to a pilot program that compiles local results on student achievement. On Wednesday, we learned the results for 21 urban districts, the largest number ever to volunteer to participate in the pilot program.

The results were not encouraging. Noting that performance overall was lackluster, Mark Schneider, a vice president of the American Institutes for Research, said to the Huffington Post that “This is just really, really, really depressing.”

I was waiting for Atlanta’s NAEP results. The city’s public school students did better in math but stayed flat in reading (click here for Atlanta Journal-Constitution blogger Maureen Downey’s post).

At the same time, Atlanta has actually shown some of the best long-term progress since signing on to the pilot program in 2002. Atlanta’s cheating scandal — where dozens of teachers, principals and regional superintendents allegedly worked in collusion to falsify student achievement on statewide tests – has cast a heavy cloud over the city’s public schools. However, there’s no indication that there was any attempt to tamper the NAEP answer sheets (which would have been much more difficult to pull off). Atlanta’s long-term trend of improved NAEP performance suggests there could be real improvement taking root.

In other words, nobody had to cheat.