Student scores are up in many urban school districts
December 7th, 2011
10:15 AM ET

Student scores are up in many urban school districts

By Sally Holland, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Math scores in some urban school districts are improving faster than the nation as a whole according to a report released Wednesday by the National Assessment Governing Board that compares math and reading scores for fourth and eighth graders.

"We continue to narrow the differences between urban school districts and the nation at large," said Michael Casserly of the Council of the Great City Schools.

Large city school districts tend to have higher numbers of students considered to be at risk than their suburban counterparts because the students often come from lower-income households or are from black or Hispanic families, groups that traditionally score lower than whites on standardized tests.

"Despite their distinct challenges, many of these districts are making steady progress in math. But, like school districts nationwide, they need to find ways to raise student achievement in reading," said David Driscoll of the National Assessment Governing Board. Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Baltimore and Philadelphia improved their scores in grade four mathematics, while Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago; Detroit; the District of Columbia and Jefferson County, Kentucky, improved their grade eight mathematics scores when compared to the last assessment two years ago. Charlotte also had an increase in its eighth grade reading scores compared to the 2009 assessment.
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Filed under: Policy • Practice • Testing
December 7th, 2011
06:25 AM ET

Does class size matter?

Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series on overcrowding and undercrowding in schools. You can see Part 1 here.

By Rose Arce, CNN

Weybridge, Vermont (CNN) – The sun climbs the steely gray sky, and tiny Weybridge Elementary lights up to greet its young.

At Weybridge, four full-time teachers work with just 52 students.

Black and white cows that look like Oreo cookies sometimes give birth in the playground. The closest neighbor is a cemetery shadowed by towering maple trees.

“We like having small schools and a sense of community in a bucolic setting, but it comes at a great cost when birth rates are falling, and the cost per pupil and property taxes keep rising,” said Spencer Putnam, who runs the town meetings that decide most things in the 250-year-old town, population 800. Just a single child entered Weybridge’s kindergarten this year, and a quarter of the 52 students will graduate from this school in the spring. There just aren’t enough darn kids.

Vermont has the highest per pupil spending in the nation at $15,000, yet Weybridge spends even more than that, an eye-popping $18,000 per pupil. The national average is just under $10,000.

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Filed under: Elementary school • High school • Issues • Policy • Practice