2011-08-12 / Top Stories

Mayor Bloomberg Says School Scores Up

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott announced on Monday that New York City public school students in grades 3 through 8 made gains on the State’s annual Math and English exams, outpacing the rest of State and showing that, despite large changes to the tests, significant progress is being made in New York City schools. The percentage of New York City students meeting the State’s bar for proficiency increased by 3.3 points in Math – from 54 percent to 57.3 percent – and 1.5 points in English – from 42.4 percent to 43.9 percent. Unlike New York City, none of the Big Four urban school districts – Rochester, Yonkers, Buffalo, and Syracuse – saw increases in both Math and English. Beginning with last year’s test, the State increased the number of correct answers required for a student to be labeled proficient – as a result, the percentage of students meeting standards fell across the State last year, although City students expanded their actual progress by all other measures. This year, the exams themselves were made longer and more challenging. Even so, City students made significant gains in nearly every grade and subject.

“All of our students, teachers and principals should be very proud of their progress and the fact that we continue to raise achievement levels and outpace the rest of the state,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “But as much progress as we have made, we know we have much more work to do. We are fully committed to ensuring that all of our students are prepared for a successful future.”

“This is real proof that when expectations are raised, our students can rise to the occasion,” said Chancellor Walcott. “It’s a model we plan to follow across the board – with higher standards in our curriculum, graduation requirements, and accountability measures for schools – to ensure our students are on track for success in college and careers. New York City students and families should be proud of their continued progress, even with these tougher standards for success.”

Since 2002, student gains in New York City have far outpaced those in the rest of the State on the annual Math and English exams. This year, in New York State as whole, 63.3 percent of students met the proficiency standard in Math (up from 61 percent last year) and 52.8 percent met the English proficiency standard (a decrease from 53.2 percent last year). New York City is significantly outperforming the state’s Big Four cities:

In Buffalo, 26.9 percent of students met the English proficiency standard (down from 27.7 percent last year); 31 percent met the Math standard (up from 29.8 percent last year).

In Rochester, 24.4 percent of students met the English proficiency standard (down from 25.3 percent last year); 29.4 percent met the Math standard (up from 28 percent last year).

In Syracuse, 22.5 percent of students met the English proficiency standard (down from 25.5 percent last year); 25.3 percent met the Math standard (down from 25.7 percent last year).

In Yonkers, 37.8 percent of students met the English proficiency standard (down from 39.2 percent last year); 40.4 percent met the Math standard (down from 41.5 percent last year).

New York City’s trend of outpacing the rest of the state has been mirrored on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the gold standard for tests nationwide. In fourth grade English and Math, City students have improved by 11 points since 2002 and seven points in eighth grade math, while the State has remained flat or seen declines. Overall, New York City’s gains far exceed the State’s and are even greater than those in the rest of the nation.

The significant gains recorded by New York City students came despite major changes to the State exams this year. According to the State Education Department, more than 20 questions were added to the English tests in every grade, while testing times increased, in some cases by 100 percent. Moreover, a new writing component was introduced in grades 3, 5, and 7, as well as additional short response and multiple choice questions. On the Math exams, testing time was also increased, and students were asked to answer word problems and show their work on a broader range of content.

Across all groups this year, more New York City students met the State’s bar for proficiency. In Math, the percentage of proficient black students went from 40.4 percent in 2010 to 44.2 percent in 2011, and the percentage of proficient Hispanic students went from 46.2 percent to 49.2 percent. In English, the percentage of proficient black students went from 32.6 percent to 34.8 percent, and the percentage of proficient Hispanic students went from 33.7 percent to 34.7 percent. White students, Asian students, English Language Learners and students with disabilities all made gains in Math, and all groups except English Language Learners made gains in English. The mean scale scores stayed roughly the same, going from 679 to 680 in Math and 662 to 660 in English.

These gains mirror those seen across all groups on four-year graduation rates. The graduation rate reached 60.6 percent for black students and 58.2 percent for Hispanic students, both increases of more than 20 points since 2005. Across all ethnic groups, more students also earned Regents and Advanced Regents diplomas – crucial measures of college readiness, and increasingly important, as the City now holds schools accountable for how well they prepare students for life after high school.

Since 2004, when Mayor Bloomberg ended the practice of social promotion – in which students moved to the next grade regardless of academic performance – New York City has implemented a standard promotion policy for students in grades 3 through 8. Until 2010, the decision to recommend a child for summer school was made, in large part, on the basis of his or her State test results. The past two years, however, due to the State’s late administration of its annual tests, the city used preliminary results to determine whether each student in grades 3-8 should attend summer school. On this basis, 34,069 students were recommended for summer school this June.

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