A fifth grade classroom at San Pedro Street Elementary.
Schools in Los Angeles have left behind Detroit, Baltimore and Milwaukee. New York, Boston and San Diego are still ahead.
The National Center for Education Statistics gathers and crunches data from tests of fourth and eighth graders across the country. It's often referred to as the Nation's Report Card.
The report, Trial Urban Districts Assessments, compares the performance of schools in 21 large cities.
Los Angeles was among the most improved, posting gains in reading for both grades and in math for fourth grade. Math scores for grade eight showed no significant gains.
Jack Buckley, the commissioner of NCES, oversaw the publication and said L.A. faced a real challenge having started from the back of the pack.
“I think they’ve made some real progress and that’s not going to get harder or easier," Buckley said. "It’s just going to be the same difficult slog as they go forward.”
Urban schools have high rates of poverty and other disadvantages, such as a large number of students learning English, that contribute to low academic performance.
However, the report shows, most large cities are on a similar upward trend as Los Angeles, boasting higher gains than the nation as a whole.