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DPS Shares Results of Academic Performance on “The Nation’s Report Card”

Oct. 24, 2022
Logo for the National Assessment of Educational Progress

Students in Denver Public Schools are generally performing higher than other large cities across the nation in the critical skills of reading and math, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP, also known as “the nation’s report card.” NAEP results released today show how DPS students compare with their classmates in 25 other large urban districts in reading and math skills in grades 4 and 8 from 2019 to 2022.

“Notably, in reading at grades 4 and 8, Denver maintained pre-pandemic scores, compared to declines for the nation,” said Raymond C. Hart, Executive Director of the Council of Great City Schools. “Sustaining achievement in any grade or subject in the face of a global crisis is no easy feat and is a testament to Denver’s academic continuity planning during the crisis, as well as their proactive recovery efforts when schools reopened.”

DPS volunteered to join the group of urban school districts participating in the national exam in 2017. Compared to 2019, math scores are statistically significantly lower compared to 2019 in both grades in math across the nation, in school districts in large cities, and for Denver. These scores are also statistically significantly lower in 2022 than they were in 2017 for the nation and large districts, but not for Denver. In reading, 2019 to 2022 scores decreased for the nation, large city districts and DPS to pre-2017 lows.

“This data, collected at the peak of the COVID-19 Omicron variant wave, reflect the significant impact that the pandemic had on our educational system nationwide,” said Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero. “This data highlight the challenges facing our students in the aftermath of the pandemic and, more importantly, provide us with a new baseline to help guide our efforts as we work to navigate through academic recovery.”

DPS students typically performed in the middle in each grade and content area of the 26 urban districts assessed on the Trial Urban District Assessment or TUDA portion of NAEP, with a slightly stronger showing in reading than in math. For example, in eighth-grade reading, DPS ranks 5th. In fourth-grade reading, DPS ranks 8th. And, in eighth-grade math, DPS ranks 10th. In fourth-grade math, DPS ranks 9th.

The results show Denver’s multilingual learners (MLL) performed slightly higher in reading than their peers in most other urban districts and the national average. In math, DPS MLL student scores declined slightly. DPS remains focused on improving instruction for students learning English as well as ensuring consistent participation in English language development classes.

The results also show wide gaps among DPS students by race and income, higher than most other districts in the assessment. Among TUDA districts, DPS’ black-white gaps were similar to those in most other districts. DPS Hispanic students and students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) performed statistically lower than the nation in both math and reading content areas, with the exception of FRL eligible students in 8th grade reading. The largest difference between DPS and the nation across all student groups is for White student scores which are from 22% to 15% points higher than the nation in all grades and content areas.

With the school district’s new Strategic Roadmap, the district is focused on transforming the student, adult and system experiences. This work includes developing learning experiences, engaging with those who know our students best – our families, and uprooting and eliminating ineffective, oppressive systems and replacing them with equitable, excellent systems. By prioritizing our marginalized students on an accelerated trajectory, providing students with added support and eliminating our persistent student gaps, Denver Public Schools is positioned to drive academic improvements throughout the school district.

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. 

What is the National Assessment of Educational Progress?

First administered in 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP is also known as “the nation’s report card” because it is the largest ongoing assessment of what K-12 students know and can do in key academic areas.

NAEP achievement levels are performance standards that describe what students should know and be able to do. Results enable comparisons of what representative students know and can do among states and jurisdictions, demographic groups, and over time. NAEP data does not represent grade level proficiency as determined by other assessment standards, like state assessments.

Why does DPS participate in the NAEP?

Participation is voluntary. DPS participated in NAEP as a member of the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) in 2017, 2019, and 2022 in 4th and 8th grade math and reading. There is also a comparison group called “large city”, which includes TUDA districts and all students residing in a city with a population larger than 250,000. In addition, TUDA districts must have at least 50% of students who are African-American or Latino, or are eligible for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program, an indicator of poverty.

Will my student or school receive results?

No. By design, NAEP does not provide individual student or school results. Because NAEP is a large-group assessment, each student takes only a small part of the overall assessment. In most schools, only a small portion of the total grade enrollment is selected to take the assessment, and these students may not represent the total school population. Only when the student scores are aggregated at the state or national level are the data considered reliable and valid estimates of what students know and can do in the content area; consequently, school- or student-level results are never reported.

How is NAEP different from other district and state tests?

Most state tests measure student performance on the state’s own curriculum standards, that is, on what policymakers and citizens consider important for students to know and be able to do. State tests allow comparisons of results over time within the state, and, in most cases, give individual student scores so that parents can know how their child is performing. NAEP is the only assessment that allows the comparison of results from one state with another, or with results for the rest of the nation.

How can I learn more about NAEP, including district, state and national results?

To learn more about NAEP, including the opportunity to review sample questions, see historic trends and get the most recent results, please visit For specific questions about DPS results, please email