Giving Compass' Take: 

• Detroit schools did very poorly on the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scoring five points lower in 2017 than 2015. However, the superintendent is doing everything he can to strengthen Detroit school systems. 

• Recent walkouts, strikes and an outdated curriculum have created challenges for educators and students alike. How can philanthropists get involved to help strengthen outcomes for struggling public schools? 

• Some think that since the NAEP switched over to digital, scores may have dropped due to the electronic factor. 

It’s difficult to find good news for Detroit schools in newly released national test score results. Not only did students in the city’s main district rank dead last — for the fifth time — among major cities in every subject, but their scores dropped even lower than the rock-bottom numbers Detroit fourth-graders posted the last time they took the exam in 2015.

The biggest drop came in fourth-grade math, where the city’s average score fell 5 points between 2015 and 2017.

The test, called the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP, was given to a representative sample of students in the first few months of 2017, shortly after a new school board took over the district, but before Superintendent Nikolai Vitti was hired.

Detroit schools saw a rotating cast of emergency managers, teacher walkouts over unsafe building conditions, and plunging enrollment that created a financial crisis.  Educators have been using a curriculum so outdated that a recent audit found students had largely been set up to fail.

The exam is given to students across the country every two years.Detroit, which has taken part in the urban district comparison since 2009, has ranked last every year that it has participated. According to U.S. Census data, Detroit has the lowest median household income and the highest percentage of families living in poverty compared to people who live within the boundaries of the other 26 districts.

Detroit’s scores are “not a reflection of our students’ talent or potential,” Superintendent Vitti said. “Instead, they are indicative of a school system that has not implemented best practices regarding curriculum, instruction, academic intervention, and school improvement for over a decade.”

“This year we have focused on rebuilding the district’s infrastructure using the same strategies that led to some of the highest performance among large urban school districts in Duval, Miami-Dade, and Florida in general,” he said.

Read the full article about Detroit scores on NAEP by Ron French and Mike Wilkinson at Chalkbeat.