Denver’s Fourth- and Eighth-Graders Post Gains on ‘Nation’s Report Card’

Oct. 31, 2019
Student reads in the library at Farrell B. Howell

DENVER – Students in Denver Public Schools (DPS) made academic gains or remained steady in the critical skills of reading and math in 2019, compared to district results in 2017, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP, also known as “the nation’s report card.”

The NAEP assessment measures what fourth-grade and eighth-grade students know and can do in various subjects across the nation.

“Denver Public Schools and the community should be very pleased that its fourth and eighth graders made some of the nation’s biggest gains in reading and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress,” said Michael Casserly, Executive Director of the Council of Great City Schools. “The many years of reform and improvement are paying off for Denver. Many congratulations to the schools, their teachers, and students.”

DPS also participates in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), which highlights trends specifically in urban education. In 2019, 27 TUDA districts participated in NAEP, and 4,200 DPS students participated. DPS volunteered to join the group of urban districts participating in the national exam in 2017.

From 2017 to 2019, DPS increased the percentage of students at or above proficient in math by 6 percentage points for fourth-grade students, and by 3 percentage points for eighth-grade students.

DPS outperformed the national average for African-American students at or above proficient in fourth-grade reading by 2 percentage points and the average of all other TUDA districts by 5 percentage points. DPS also exceeded the national average in eighth-grade math for students with disabilities by 1 percentage point and the average of all other TUDA districts by 4 percentage points.

“This is an important measure of our progress in key grades and core subjects,” said Superintendent Susana Cordova. “It’s encouraging to see the gains we’ve posted, and it’s a huge testament to the hard work of our students and educators. We need to keep pushing forward and getting more of our students on track for academic success.”

NAEP, first administered in 1969, is the country’s largest continuing measure of trends in academic achievement for K-12 students. In addition to urban districts, it measures performance among students in cities with 250,000 residents or more, in individual states and across the nation.

To learn more about NAEP results, including those for DPS, visit Please note that NAEP results are not comparable to other state or district assessments.

Former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan Recognizes DPS Progress

Duncan highlighted DPS as an “outlier worth saluting” in his Washington Post op-ed about NAEP results. He also praised Superintendent Susana Cordova and former Superintendent Tom Boasberg for building a “a diverse, high-quality portfolio of schools.”