Detroit schools score are lowest in the country in reading, math

Detroit Public Schools have been given a failing grade and their standardized test scores are the worst in the country after scores show 95% of fourth graders aren't proficient in reading and 93% are proficient in math.

The new superintendent says he's not surprised by the scores given what the district has been through but he promises improvement will happen soon.

"It's not a reflection of the talent of our children," Superintendent Nicolai Vitti said

The scores are also not a reflection of the talent of teachers and principals. Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nicolai Vitti says the district's low test scores in math and reading show the state control failed the schools.

"It's really evidence that emergency management didn't work - that state control did not work," Vitti said.

Vitti says he's in the process of working with the school board, the principals, the teachers, and the parents to implement changes that he knows will work. 

"We know our children can achieve at higher levels but they have to be supported. Our teachers have to be supported. You can't use curriculum that's outdated. You can't use curriculum that's not aligned to the standards," Vitti said.

The results from last year's National Assessment of Educational Progress indicate Detroit has a long way to go. With just 5 percent of fourth graders proficient in reading and 4 percent proficient in math, the scores are the worst in the nation.

The problem isn't just Detroit, the state of Michigan remains below the national average.

"We should never judge a child or a group of children based on a test. With that said, I would say we've been working hard over the last eight months to get this right," Vitti said.

Vitti says the school board will take action at Tuesday night's meeting to adopt a new curriculum that aligns with common core, something that he says should have already been in place. They're adding art and music to every school in the fall, training teachers on the new standards for math and literacy, upgrading the infrastructure, and more. 

With time, space and support, Vitti says, they'll make it happen.

"I think it's realistic to say by the end of next year we should see improvement," Vitti said.

Vitti says they won't be the highest performing urban school overnight but the district he oversaw in Florida prior to Detroit showed significant improvement on the test - which could bode well for students here.