The Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) is designed to explore the feasibility of using National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to report on the performance of public school students at the district level. As authorized by federal law, NAEP has administered the mathematics, reading, science, and writing assessments to samples of students in selected urban districts public schools.
You see here that Detroit’s schools aren’t just doing poorly because the city contains so many poor people. Poor kids in Detroit do worse than the average poor kid.I think that's completely fair. Even accounting for SES, some districts do vary wildly in their achievement levels. Modern testing does do a good job at emphasizing broad trends.
The problem then comes in what you do about it. The News Hour last night did a piece on Detroit that highlighted some of the problems. It could only go so deep in 10 minutes, but you got an idea of what you’re dealing with. In places like Detroit, the economic and social environment is just kind of disastrous overall. And the takeaway was that the leadership failed repeatedly to take the proper steps.
One thing is clear however is that all poor districts have both poor teachers and unions – the main new-reform bugaboos. So the fact that some districts do a lot better than others clearly shows that we need to be taking a more nuanced view of performance.