By Rich Bockmann
Dickens would have called it a tale of two boroughs.
The state Education Department last week released the 2012 math and English test scores for elementary and middle schoolers across the state, and those in the consistently high-performing District 26 topped state averages, while District 29 just to the south fell short.
Across the state, 55.1 percent of third- through eighth-grade students met or exceeded English Language Arts proficiency standards, while 64.8 percent of students met or exceeded math standards.
Students in District 26 — covering Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Glen Oaks, Bellerose, Floral Park, Oakland Gardens, Fresh Meadows, Utopia and Auburndale — reported the best numbers in the city and outperformed the state averages in ELA (76.9 percent) and math (89.1 percent).
Ranking behind District 26, District 25 — covering Whitestone, College Point, Flushing, Murray Hill, Queensboro Hill and Kew Gardens Hill — reported 61.9-percent proficiency in ELA and 79.7-percent in math.
On the other hand, ELA scores in District 29, which includes Queens Village, Hollis, Laurelton St. Albans, Camrbia Heights, Rosedale and parts of Jamaica and Springfield Gardens, (44.1 percent) and math (50.8 percent) were the lowest throughout the borough and below the state averages.
District 27 — covering the Rockaways, South Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Old Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and parts of Springfield Gardens and South Jamaica — reported proficiencies of 51.5 percent in ELA and 63.3 percent in math.
District 24 — covering Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, Corona, North Corona and parts of Sunnyside and Woodside — had a 51.6-percent proficiency rate in ELA, and 69.4 percent in math.
Students in District 30 — covering Steinway, Astoria, Long Island City, Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst — had a proficiency rate of 52.9 percent in ELA and 68.7 percent in math.
District 28 — covering Rego Park, Forest Hills, Briarwood and parts of Jamaica, South Jamaica, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park — reported 52-percent proficiency in ELA and 64.2 percent in math.
Overall, students throughout the city tested at lower rates than the state averages, but the improvements they made on those exams outpaced the rate of improvements statewide — a fact education officials hailed.
“Our administration’s core philosophy is that if we raise our expectations, our kids will reach them,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “The progress we see this year doesn’t give us a reason to rest — it gives us a reason to strive for even greater gains. There’s still much more work to do, but there’s no question our students are headed in the right direction.”
For the past two years, the city has been preparing classrooms to adopt the Common Core, which clearly articulates standards students across 45 states should be expected to reach upon graduation. Next year’s third- through eighth-grade state tests will reflect the Common Core, requiring students to read more complex texts and test them on a narrower range of topics in math.
State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said the numbers showed some “positive momentum,” but added students of color, English language learners and special education students were still not on track for college and career readiness.
“That’s why we are continuing to press forward with critical reforms to ensure all of our kids are ready for college and careers. In the fall we will begin to phase in a new, more challenging, content-rich curriculum and continue to press for the implementation of a rigorous teacher evaluation system in every district across the state,” she said.
In Queens, English language learners actually regressed from 2011, further widening the gap that exists between them and English speakers.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.