Test scores on a national reading exam for fourth and eighth graders in San Diego Unified schools didn’t rise significantly between 2007 and 2009. They rose — but not enough to make a statistical blip.

Nor has the achievement gap between black and Hispanic children and their white classmates narrowed during that time. Poor children haven’t closed the gap much either since San Diego students last took the exam.

Those are the disappointing results of a test widely seen as one of the few reliable yardsticks to compare the success of different school districts across the country. States have different exams with differing levels of difficulty, so the National Assessment of Educational Progress is the only national test reliably used to compare kids in other big cities to kids in San Diego.

The stagnant scores come in contrast to the gains that San Diego Unified showed on state tests in the same year. I’m waiting to hear back from the research czar at San Diego Unified and other smart folks to help me understand this gap — stay tuned for more.

Eighteen urban school districts now allow their scores to be separated from state and national results on the exam, part of a pilot program meant to see if the national test, which is now used to measure national and state trends in education, can eventually be used to measure individual districts’ progress.

San Diego outscored the average for large cities, but a closer look reveals that not all of its students are faring as well.

For instance, Hispanic fourth graders in San Diego Unified did worse on the test than Hispanic fourth graders in other urban school districts, and unlike other ethnic groups in their grade, their scores actually dropped between 2007 and 2009. Asian and Pacific Islander students in eighth grade here also underperformed.

You can check out all the data here. Don’t hesitate to shoot me an e-mail if you see something interesting.


Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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