Los Angeles schools showed the second-highest improvement in the nation on a test of urban school districts that is widely considered one of the most reliable measurements of student skills. This is cause for applause but also some frustration, because even the experts don't know which factors are driving the improvement. The long-term success of students here and across the country depends on finding out.
The Trial Urban District Assessment uses the biannual test that's familiarly called the nation's report card, or more formally the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The program oversamples fourth- and eighth-grade students in participating school districts in order to get valid results for them.
L.A. Unified's scores have been rising slowly since the urban district assessment began a decade ago, but figures released this week showed a more significant jump. Among L.A.'s fourth-graders, for example, the percentage of math students scoring at the bottom level — known as "below basic" — fell from 37% to 31%.