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Duval Students Rank Number 1 in Multiple Categories On National Test

Lindsey Kilbride
Duval County School Board Chair Paula Wright speaks Tuesday, with other board members and Superintendent Patricia Willis around her.

Duval County students last year scored at the top in several areas on a national test compared with other large, urban districts, according to rankings released this week.

However, district staff said the test differs widely from Florida’s state assessments in both content and scoring methods.

The NAEP test, also called the Nation's’ Report Card, allows for comparison across states in Common Core standards.

In addition, 27 urban districts including Duval opted for district-level ranking.

“If this national accountability program were the Olympics we could say Duval students earned a medal in almost every category,” Superintendent Patricia Willis said.

The NAEP tested a pool of fourth and eighth graders that are representative of district demographics in math and reading. Duval ranked near the top or first in almost every measure, including minority sub-groups and students with disabilities.

“Because of that Board-driven desire to ensure every student received a quality education in every school, in every classroom, every day, the results speak for themselves.” School Board Chair Paula Wright said

Among the 27 districts, Duval was number one in fourth-grade math, and for achievement by students with disabilities, and among African-American students.
Duval scored the lowest in eighth-grade math, “But even so, we still finished in the top 10,” Willis said.

Despite their national success, Florida students’ advancement and school grades are largely based on state assessments, which are different both in the types of questions and the scoring algorithm, Duval Chief Academic Officer Mason Davis said.

“The way NAEP scores the assessment is straight criterion referenced and the way that the state scores our assessment is they take a criterion referenced  test and norm it after the fact,” Davis said.

He said after Florida students’ scores come back, then the state makes scoring adjustments and there will always be a bottom quartile of students, even if they’ve all improved.
Duval NAEP Breakdown

Fourth Grade Math

Duval County students scored the highest among the 27 districts and as well as higher than the state, national and large city averages.

Duval’s African-American students ranked first, improving eight points since 2015.

Duval’s Hispanic students and students on free and reduced lunch ranked second to Miami-Dade. But the county’s students with disabilities ranked first, although they scored three points lower than when the sub-group was tested in 2015.

Fourth Grade Reading

Overall Duval County was third, only beat by two other Florida districts, Hillsborough and Miami-Dade, an improvement of one point.

Duval was second to Miami-Dade for African-Americans, Hispanics and students utilizing free and reduced lunch.

Eighth Grade Math

Duval County students tied with New York City for eighth place, which was above the large city average, but below the state and national averages.

Duval did not improve or decline in this area from when students took the test in 2015. Duval County was second to Charlotte, North Carolina in terms of African-American students taking the math test and third for Hispanic students. Duval students utilizing free and reduced lunch ranked 10 out of the 27 in this area.

Eighth Grade Reading

Duval ranked third among the 27 urban districts, four points below the state average and two points below the national average, but five points higher than the large city average. African-American students ranked first and students with disabilities ranked second to Miami.

Duval was compared to 26 other big, urban districts including:

  • Florida:  Miami Dade, Hillsborough
  • Georgia: Atlanta
  • North Carolina: Charlotte, Guiliford County
  • District of Columbia school district
  • Maryland: Baltimore
  • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • New York: New York City
  • Massachusetts: Boston
  • Ohio: Cleveland
  • Michigan: Detroit
  • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Illinois: Chicago
  • Kentucky: Jefferson County
  • Tennessee: Shelby County
  • Texas: Houston, Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas
  • New Mexico: Albuquerque
  • Colorado: Denver
  • California: San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno
  • Nevada: Clark County

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at@lindskilbride.  

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.