Return to Headlines

Detroit Public Schools Community District’s Positive Momentum of Reform Now includes NAEP Improvement

Detroit Public Schools Community District’s Positive Momentum of Reform Now includes NAEP Improvement

DPSCD Outpaces National and Large Urban School District Improvement in Fourth Grade Reading and Math

Results from last year’s administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – also known as “the nation’s report card” – were released today in Washington, D.C. Detroit Public Schools Community District saw an improvement in fourth grade achievement in reading and math outpacing the national trend.

Fourth grade math improvement was among the best in the nation among large city school districts (second only to Denver), and fourth grade reading results show signs of improvement, even among national declines.  Thirteen of the nation’s largest cities saw declines in eighth grade reading. Similar to the Detroit Public Schools Community District’s (DPSCD) recent M-STEP results, fourth grade achievement improved across all subgroups. English Language Learners (ELLs) in fourth grade improved in both subjects, closing the gap between themselves and their nationwide peers. In fact, Detroit ELLs outperform their peers among all large urban school districts in eighth grade reading and perform above the national and large urban school district average in fourth grade reading and eighth grade math.

“All of our performance indicators are moving in the right direction, including enrollment, state assessment performance, attendance, teacher vacancies, financial systems, and now NAEP performance,” said Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, DPSCD. “With only one year of implementation, our fourth graders quickly showed that they were ready and able to tackle at grade level curriculum.  We have not been teaching to the ability and talent of our children. This is rapidly changing in our District and I look forward to the 2021 NAEP results where students will be exposed to aligned curriculum, high-quality instruction, and the support resources they need to demonstrate improvement. Our work here is just beginning. If you are looking for a large urban school district on the rise, come to Detroit. We are properly acknowledging our improvement but not celebrating it because our children deserve so much more. We are putting our heads down and starting to work not only harder as individuals but as a team with strategy and purpose.”  

"National leaders agree that the District’s performance is a promising signal,” Michael Casserly, Executive Director of the Council for Great City Schools, praised Detroit’s gains. “On the 2019 results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the Detroit schools showed substantial progress in fourth grade reading and math.  These are the greatest gains that Detroit has seen since it started taking the assessment.  In addition, Detroit held its own at the 8th grade level while the nation was going down.  Detroit’s gains show real promise for the city school district and its kids.”

Under the leadership of Superintendent Vitti and a newly elected and empowered School Board, the district is in its third year of a five-year reform effort. The District started its school level reform last school year by implementing new ELA and math curricula for grades K-8 in the 2018-2019 school year.  “We still have significant work to do in our schools, but this national data is yet another positive indicator that our District is on the right track.  These improvements on NAEP and M-STEP are not an accident, they are the result of strategic leadership and investments,” said Dr. Iris Taylor, Board President.

The NAEP assessment provides information for states and select urban districts every two years that allows them to understand their progress in fourth and eighth grades.


Detroit Public Schools Community District has participated in NAEP since 2009, and the 2019 results are the first since Education Achievement Authority schools returned to the District.