Thursday, May 27, 2010

San Diego reading scores improve slightly

San Diego reading scores improve slightly
By Maureen Magee
May 21, 2010


Want your child to be a good reader? Here are a few tips:

• Before your children start school, read to them for 30 minutes every day. Ask them to find letters and words on the page, and talk with your children about the story.

• Have plenty of children’s books in your home, and visit the library regularly. Let your kids pick out their own books.

• Set a good example by reading newspapers, magazines and books.

• Set up a reading area in your home. Keep books that interest your children in places where they can easily reach them.

• Ask your children to describe their daily events. Talking about their experiences makes children think about them. Giving detailed descriptions and telling complete stories also helps children learn about how stories are written and what the stories they read mean.

• Limit television time.

SOURCE: Reading Is Fundamental (

San Diego’s fourth- and eighth-graders made modest gains on a federal reading assessment administered in the nation’s largest urban school districts, according to data released Thursday.

The “Nation’s Report Card” shows results of reading tests taken by fourth- and eighth-graders last academic year in 18 big-city districts.

Administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the tests gauge students on their ability to comprehend, interpret and evaluate various types of text — from poetry to nonfiction.

The average score for San Diego fourth-graders improved by 3 points to 213 from the 2007 assessment. That’s above the average score of 210 for other large-city districts in 2009, but the overall national average was 220.

Although the jump in scores was deemed statistically insignificant by NAEP, 29 percent of San Diego fourth-graders scored at or above the proficient level in 2009, compared with the 25 percent who scored proficient or higher in 2007.

Among San Diego eighth-graders, 25 percent of students scored at or above proficient in 2009, up from the 23 percent who ranked proficient or better in 2007.

For local eighth-graders, the average score was 254 last year, two points higher than the average score of 252 for large cities and below the national average of 262. In 2007, the average eighth-grader’s score was 250 on the same exam.

At least one expert believes the “relatively flat” performance may have something to do with the churn of superintendents in the San Diego Unified School District.

“San Diego has kind of been stuck. It hasn’t been moving very much lately compared to some of the other urban districts like Atlanta, New York and District of Columbia,” said David Gordon, a member of the governing board that steers the National Assessment of Educational Progress. “Improvements in reading have been made where there is consistent and stable leadership and focused professional development.”

San Diego is searching for its fourth schools chief in less than five years, and the district has earned a reputation for fostering difficult relationships between its superintendents and school board.

Consistency with leadership, curriculum and teaching is a trend among urban districts that have made the most gains in reading scores, said Gordon, who is also the Sacramento County superintendent of schools.

In 2009, San Diego Unified’s eighth-graders were in the national spotlight for their impressive gains in math scores administered by NAEP. But progress in math, Gordon said, does not always rely as heavily on administrative consistency.

Troubling to educators is evidence that the persistent achievement gap between white students and their minority counterparts continues, the scores show. For example, the average score of a Hispanic fourth-grader in San Diego was 43 points lower than the average score for white students, according to the 2009 data. That’s a deeper chasm than the 36-point difference reported in 2003. The gap also grew between students who qualify for government-subsidized meals compared with those who don’t. San Diego Unified officials saw the good and the bad in the latest statistics...

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