Bryson Schneider, a sixth grader at Centauri Middle School, takes a science pre-test Aug. 21. Centauri Middle School is part of the North Conejos School District, and runs on a four-day week. (Mike Sweeney, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Denver students improved their performance this year on the math and reading tests known as the nation’s report card, but the district continued to demonstrate some of the largest test score gaps based on race, ethnicity, and family income among large urban districts.

That’s according to results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, test released Wednesday. The tests are given every two years to a sample of fourth and eighth graders in each state. Scores from 27 urban districts, including Denver Public Schools, are reported separately.

Nearly 600,000 students nationwide took this year’s exams on tablet computers between January and March. The test is an important marker of how America’s students are doing and how that’s changed over time.

The improvement among Denver students bucks national trends in which elementary- and middle-schoolers saw their reading scores drop this year. Eighth-grade math scores fell slightly too, leaving a small uptick in fourth-grade math scores as the lone nationwide bright spot in the 2019 scores.

This continues a decade-long period where average scores in reading and math have remained essentially flat, even as the score gaps between high- and low-achieving students has been widening.

Statewide, scores were also essentially flat, though Colorado math scores ticked up slightly. As in years past, Denver students performed below the state and national average.


Erica Meltzer is Bureau Chief of Chalkbeat Colorado, where she also covers the legislature and statewide education issues. Erica was a founding editor of the local news site Denverite. Before that, she covered everything from housing and energy...