Chicago posts improved test scores

  • By Paul D. Bowker
  • Education reporter
  • April 04, 2008 @ 7:11 AM

Chicago eighth-grade students scored the largest improvement among 10 urban districts nationally in a writing assessment administered last year, Chicago Public Schools officials announced yesterday.

The number of city students who scored at or above the basic level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress rose from 72 to 83 percent over five years.

"We still have a long way to go, but it's encouraging to see progress," Chicago Board of Education president Rufus Williams said in a statement.

Hispanic students performed especially well, with 86  percent scoring at basic level or above. In five years, the percent of Hispanics in Chicago achieving basic rose by 13.

Seventy-eight percent of African-American students in Chicago scored at the basic level or above, a rise of 10 percent.

The NAEP assessment was given to students 45 states.  The information released yesterday included breakdowns for 10 urban school districts, including Chicago,  New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. The results divided students into one of four categories: Below basic level, basic, proficient and advanced.

Scores at or above basic level are considered passing scores.

"We will continue to make a strong push for writing," CPS Chief Education Officer Barbara Eason-Watkins says. "We want to build on the skills we've already developed in our students."

A policy passed by the Chicago Board of Education last September requires eighth-grade students to demonstrate writing competency by the end of the 2008-09 school year.

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Paul Bowker, a Chicago-area journalist with 25 years of experience, covers Chicago Public Schools for the Daily News.