Fourth-graders in Miami-Dade County Public Schools are on a roll. They pretty much aced a test known as "the nation's report card."
"Miami-Dade's 4th graders are number one in the country in reading and number one in the country in mathematics," superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced at a news conference in Miami today.
Carvalho was talking about the National Assessment of Education Progress test results, or NAEP, which tests 4th and 8th grade students in reading and math every other year. This year, more than 600,000 students were assessed in all 50 states, including nearly 7,000 in Miami-Dade.
"That's why it's called the gold standard, there is no hiding from its results," Carvalho said.
There's no reason to hide for MDCPS. The numbers show stagnation or even regression nationally, but the eighth-graders in Miami-Dade rose to second in the nation in reading and sixth in math, which is up from fifth in reading and 10th in math in 2017.
It's significant, Carvalho says, especially because of the demographics of the school district.
"70% or so of our students live at or below the poverty level, our students in poverty perform better than students in poverty across the country and in large cities," Carvalho said.
MDCPS joined Hillsborough and Duval as the only Florida school districts assessed by NAEP.
"I know we fixate a lot and pay a lot of attention to FSA performance, we pay a lot of attention to end of course assessments, but that is only good in the Florida market, considering the national and global economy, it is important to gauge and compare our performance across all states," Carvalho explained.
The NAEP data doesn't show cause and effect, so you can't look at Miami-Dade's numbers and determine why the numbers went up in this county and down in many areas of the country.
Carvalho says there might be several reasons, from adding more electives to the middle school curriculum to raising academic standards to data-driven decision making in schools.
"When the entire nation sees a deflating of performance, what you want to see is your district rise to the top, even when the tide goes lower, and that's what we've seen in Miami-Dade," Carvalho said.
Now on to the next challenge: keeping the NAEP scores on an upward trajectory.