Federal testing data shows that public school students in the nation's largest cities are improving their performance in reading and math faster than their counterparts in suburban and rural schools.
Students in Washington had the biggest gains by far on the "Nation's Report Card" for urban school districts released Wednesday.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress tests fourth and eighth graders in both reading and math in 21 urban school districts with large numbers of poor and minority students. The results show that while big-city students still fall short of national averages, the gap has narrowed over the past decade.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan calls the results "encouraging" and says tens of thousands more students are proficient in math and reading than four years ago.
Explore further: US report card: Scores up, but not all good news