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Local Students Making The Grade – QNS.com

Local Students Making The Grade

Queens fourth and eighth graders racked up New York Citys highest scores in special mathematics tests prepared by the State Department of Education (DOE).These high test marks raised local elementary school scores 11% higher than the city-wide school standards. Helping to achieve this were four schools with 100% passing averages. Eighth graders in PS 122 (30th ED) also reached a 100% score.
State and city education officials were quick to point out the strong pace of improvement since 1999. Among city fourth graders, 76% met or exceeded state standards, compared to 52% three years ago. Eighth graders improved their math scores at a faster rate, almost doubling their improvement from about 22% to the current 42%.
Equally significant was Queens 2% hike in fourth grade math scores, which came in at double the city-wide rate of improvement. This was helped by the 26th Educational Districts 94% passing average, bolstered by 16 of the districts 21 schools boasting an over 90% passing average.
While the state report showed that Queens youngsters were averaging higher scores than their fellow students in other boroughs, there was a downside. The report also revealed that one quarter of the boroughs fourth graders and one half of its eighth graders were still not proficient in math.
Last spring, nearly 41,000 local fourth and eighth grade students were given statewide math tests issued by the DOE, and the results were ranked in four levels: students who were at the first and second levels came below state performance standards, and students at the third and fourth levels met or exceeded state math standards.
A very pleased school Chancellor Joel I. Klein called the results "wonderful news." Klein noted that several new classroom changes during the past year included the greater emphasis on math instruction, the addition of math coaches who assisted teachers with professional development, and a new citywide math curriculum.
Sheila Huggins, principal of PS 98 since 1991, all of whose Little Neck fourth graders met or exceeded state math standards, explained it even more simply. PS 98, she said, cultivated a rigorous math program that gets hands-on teaching from its instructors, and has parents that are closely involved with their childrens education. The results, she said, are motivated and successful students. Stressing parental involvement, the veteran educator declared, "You need that home connection."
Despite these glowing tributes, the report also revealed that glaring educational problems remain in Queens.
Fourth graders in 75 elementary schools scored below acceptable state standards. Just one third of PS 111s fourth graders were able to pass their test.
Students in one third of Queens 53 secondary schools were marked below state standards. Only 12% of PS 198s eighth graders passed their state math examination.
State Education Commissioner Richard Mills, who issued the new math scores, declared, "The bottom line is this: Student achievement is improving. Fewer students have serious academic problems. The reforms New York has put into effect are working."
Victor Ross is a freelance writer.

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