Only 17% of 8th Graders in Schools Overseen by Obama Education Secretary-Designee Can Read at Grade Level

December 16, 2008 - 8:05 PM
According to the U.S. Department of Education, Chicago public schools have consistently performed below the national average during Arne Duncan's tenure. President-elect Obama has picked Duncan to be his education secretary.<br />

Chicago Schools Chief Arne Duncan smiles as President-elect Barack Obama announces his selection to be Education Secretary, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008, at the Dodge Renaissance Academy in Chicago. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – In 2007, only 17 percent of eighth graders tested at or above grade level in reading in Chicago Public Schools – the school system administered by Arne Duncan since 2001.

President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday tapped Duncan to become secretary of education in the upcoming administration.
 
Duncan, hailed by Obama as a reformer, said he would like to take the lessons he learned in Chicago with him when he moves to Washington. “I'm also eager to apply some of the lessons we have learned here in Chicago to help school districts all across our country," Duncan said after Obama formally named him to the job in Chicago.
 
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report for 2007, Chicago public schools have consistently performed below the national average during Duncan’s tenure.
 
The report measures students at the fourth and eighth grade levels in the subjects of reading, math, science, and writing, and ranks them at below basic, basic, proficient, or advanced levels.
 
Students in eighth grade are those most likely to have been in the Chicago system for a majority of Duncan’s tenure. CNSNews.com used the scores for these students to best determine the results of Duncan’s administration.
 
By 2007, only 17 percent of Chicago eighth graders were at or above grade level in reading. Thirteen percent scored at or above grade level in math. Twenty-three percent scored at or above grade level in writing.
 
By 2005, the only year Chicago participated in the NEAP assessment program, 16 percent of eighth grade students were at or above grade level in science.
 
Nationally, students did much better on average in reading, math, science, and writing.
 
In 2007, 29 percent of eighth grade students scored at or above grade-level in reading, 31 percent in math, and 31 percent in writing. In 2005, 27 percent of eighth grade students were at or above grade level in science.
 
Nationally, Chicago is the third largest school district with over 408,000 students. Its budget for 2007-2008 was $4.6 billion, according to information released by Chicago Public Schools. $862 million of that was supplied by the federal government.
 
Under Duncan, Chicago Public Schools spent $10,555 per pupil, with $9,488 going toward education-related expenses in 2007.
 
During Duncan’s tenure, the Chicago district did not significantly increase its scores in reading, rising only one point on average from 2002 to 2007 – from 249 of a possible 500 in 2002, to 250 in 2007. The national average in 2007 was 263. Seventy-five percent of Chicago students scored less than 273 on the reading assessment.
 
In math, Chicago Public Schools’ average score increased from 254 in 2003 to 260 in 2007. The national average for 2007 was 280. Seventy-five percent of Chicago students scored below 283 in the math assessment.
 
In writing, the average score for students in Chicago Public Schools increased from 136 out of 300 in 2002 to 146 in 2007. The national average in 2007 was 154. Approximately 50 percent of Chicago students scored below 148 in the writing assessment.
 
In science, the Chicago Public Schools average score was 124 out of 300; the national average was 147. Three-quarters of Chicago students scored below 146 on the science assessment.