CMSD Ranks Near Top in Growth on National Test

Photo courtesy of Cleveland Schools Book Fund (

Photo courtesy of Cleveland Schools Book Fund (

learning After more than a decade of flat and low results in national testing, CMSD now ranks near the top in academic growth when compared with 20 other large U.S. urban school districts, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress released Wednesday.

The District was one of only three districts in the group to improve on all four sections of the 2015 NAEP, also known as the Nation’s Report Card. The test is given every two years.

The 21-city Trial Urban District Assessment group represents only a portion of the schools that participate in the NAEP. But CMSD fared well even when comparisons extended beyond the TUDA.

Cleveland showed the second largest gains in the nation in fourth-grade reading and fourth largest gains in the nation in fourth-grade math. Significant gains made by black male students and disabled students fueled the improvement in reading.

District eighth-graders had the fourth largest gains in reading in the nation and fifth highest gains in math among TUDA members.

The growth came as peers in the TUDA and other districts across the nation saw their scores decline or remain flat.

CMSD must continue climbing to catch up with many of the other TUDA members and the nation as a whole. But the results demonstrate the impact of The Cleveland Plan, a customized blueprint for education reform in the city, Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon said.

“After years of finishing last or nearly last among other big-city school districts in the nation, the 2015 scores are the best indicator we have so far that our reforms are working,” he said.

Mayor Frank G. Jackson said: “This year’s National Assessment of Education Progress shows positive growth for Cleveland’s schools. We are making good gains in many areas, but we also know that more needs to be done. I am encouraged and believe we have the right programs in place to sustain these gains.”

Michael Casserly, CGCS Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, said CMSD’s gains are “uniformly larger and better than any other school district in the country.” The council represents 68 large U.S. urban districts.

“The community should be encouraged and confident that more improvement is in store, as the school system is clearly on the right track,” Casserly said. (See photo, right)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard A. Ross had a similar reaction.
“This report indicates that the Cleveland plan for transforming schools, which put into place reforms that drastically reshaped the city’s failing school system, is starting to have a profoundly positive impact on students,” he said.
“While there is still much work to be done, this shows the district and community — rallying together, especially around literacy — is starting to pay off.  This is also why initiatives like Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee and reforms which help Ohio’s struggling schools are so important.”
Gordon has said the NAEP is the truest measure of CMSD’s performance. Unlike state tests that have changed from year to year, the NAEP has remained consistent over time. And the board that oversees the tests has pushed to include the results of English language learners and students with disabilities who might otherwise be excluded.
The CEO showcased the District’s progress Wednesday during a news conference at Memorial School on East 152nd Street.
He was surrounded by Board of Education members, District union leaders, and other government officials and supporters, but the true guests of honor sat closest to him in chairs arrayed on the gym floor. They are fifth-graders now but were in fourth grade when they took the reading and math tests that produced the new NAEP results.
“It is their achievement we are celebrating today,” the CEO said. “We have a long way to go, but these gains are real, and really important.”

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