Test Scores Rise Even After State Grading Changes
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott announced that New York City public school students in grades three through right made gains on the annual math and English exams, outpacing the rest of the state and showing that more students continue to make significant progress.
The percentage of New York City students meeting the state’s bar for proficiency in math increased by 2.7 points, from 57.3 to 60 percent, and by 3 points in English, from 43.9 to 46.9 percent.
The measured improvements follow changes the New York State Education Department has made to the tests and how they are scored: in 2010, more correct answers were required for students to be graded proficient; and in 2011, additional questions lengthened the exam. Even so, New York City students made gains in all grade levels and across all student groups.
“Our administration’s core philosophy is that if we raise our expectations, our kids will reach them,” said Bloomberg in a statement. “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.”
“New York City school students have once again risen to the occasion,” added Walcott. “But we have much more work to do to put all of our students on track for college and careers. We support the state’s commitment to raise standards for curriculum and graduation, and to increase the rigor of next year’s tests. I know that our students and teachers are ready to take on this challenge.”
Consistent with the gains made by students overall, 46.1 percent of black students met the proficiency standards in math, up 1.9 points from 44.2 percent in 2011.
In English, the percentage of proficient black students increased from 34.8 to 37 percent. Hispanic students showed similar improvement, with 52.3 percent of students meeting proficiency standards in math, up from 49.2 from last year. In English, Hispanic student proficiency grew from 34.7 to 37.5 percent. White students, Asian students, English Language Learners and students with disabilities all made gains in math, and all groups with the exception of English Language Learners made gains in English.
New York City charter school students outpaced the progress made in non-charter schools citywide. Charter student math proficiency increased by 3.5 points, from 68.5 percent to 72.0 percent. Student proficiency in English increased by seven points, from 44.5 to 51.5 percent.
The progress reflects the work in schools across the city to align with the Common Core learning standards. Common Core standards define what students need to learn each year in order to graduate from high school ready for either college or a career. New York City is leading the nation in aligning curriculum and instruction in the Common Core standards through the Citywide Instructional Expectations.
Last fall, teams of teachers at every school analyzed student work to understand the gap between their current performance and the higher level of performance that the Common Core standard demand. In the winter, all students engaged in at least one unit in literacy and in math that met the tougher standards. The work introduced students to more chal-
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Next year, city schools will further Common Core instruction in each grade. The 2012 exams were the last for grades 3-8 that will reflect New York State learning standards. The 2013 state math and English tests will reflect the Common Core and require students to read more complex texts, develop written arguments and problem solve. In math, the tests will focus on a narrower range of topics to allow students to master key foundational skills in each grade.
New York City’s middle school students made significant gains this year in both math and English. The increases in grade seven and eight English scores are particularly striking, reversing a decline measured last year that prompted the Department of Education to introduce the Middle School Quality Initiative. The program focuses efforts on strengthening literacy instruction in all middle school grades. Though in its first year, seventh and eighth grade student proficiency increased at a higher rate than other grades: for seventh graders, from 36.5 to 43.3 percent; and for eighth graders from 35 to 39 percent.
Through the Middle School Quality Initiative, middle school leaders, teachers and networks have received professional development on Common Core-aligned literacy strategies as well as targeted funding for literacy focused training and instructional materials. Over the next two years schools with the support of their networks will deepen and expand their literacy work to improve the reading abilities of all of their students with the goal of ensuring that many more students enter high school reading on grade level.
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 three through eight. 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. However, in the last two years, the results are issued after summer school decisions are made and so schools rely on preliminary results to determine which students need to attend. On this basis, 32,868 students were recommended for summer school this June.
Based on preliminary results, 32,868 students were recommended for summer school. Of those 7,034 actually earned low level 2 results. While these students would not have been recommended for summer school if the results were available earlier, they benefited from the extra summer learning.
Starting the week of July 30, families can view their child’s test results within ARIS Parent Link at arisparentlink.org. Families who need their username and password can visit an ARIS Parent Link access station at select libraries between Aug. 6 and Aug. 10. Interpretation services will be provided at each location. Details are available at schools.nyc.gov.