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San Diego Eighth Graders Earn High Marks In Math

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Aired 12/8/09

San Diego middle school students scored better on a national math test compared to students in other big-city school districts across the country. That's based on a national assessment called the Nation's Report Card.

— San Diego middle school students scored better on a national math test compared to students in other big city school districts across the country. That's based on a national assessment called the Nation's Report Card.

The National Assessment of Education Progress hands out the Nation's Report Card every few years. It measured the math skills of fourth and eighth graders living in 18 big city districts.

This year's report shows San Diego's eighth graders outperformed most other students across the country. Local scores jumped by eight points over the last test in 2007. That's one of the most dramatic increases cited overall.

Only two other districts surpassed San Diego in eighth grade math proficiency -- Charlotte, North Carolina and Austin, Texas.

San Diego Unified's Grenita Lathan says the results are good news because students who don’t do well in middle school tend to do worse later on.

“Research shows they (the students) will not be successful as they move into high school in reference to the higher level math courses,” Lathan said. “We're trying to provide a lot of interventions at the eighth grade level and also prior to the eighth grade.”

Lathan credits the increase on new mathematics curriculum that makes algebra readiness a priority in the eighth grade. There's also more teacher training and an online support program.

However, it’s not all good news. The national assessment shows there is still a persistent achievement gap in fourth and eighth grade mathematics. Some racial and ethnic groups continue to consistently score better than others.

Lathan says the district continues to work on academic interventions that will close that gap.

“That's the area of concern that we're always constantly looking at … what kind of interventions, beyond what the classroom teacher is already providing, what else can (the district) provide as an intervention or support for students in mathematics so we can bring them up to the proficient or advanced level.”

The report card was handed out to 18 big city school districts. The District of Columbia and Boston, Massachusetts were among the districts that also earned high marks.

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