City students show slight gains on annual tests

July 19, 2012 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The city’s elementary and middle school students showed a bit of improvement on the annual math and English exams, and Mayor Bloomberg said it shows that schools are moving in the right direction. The state Department of Education released test results on Tuesday.

The percentage of New York City students meeting the state’s bar for proficiency in math (passing with a score of 3 or a 4) increased by 2.7 points, from 57.3 to 60 percent, and by 3 points in English, from 43.9 to 46.9 percent.

Looking just at fourth-graders, here are a few local examples. In Brooklyn’s District 15, 61.1 percent of fourth graders were proficient in English, while in District 14, 51.4 percent were proficient. In Brooklyn’s District 13, 50.3 percent of fourth-graders passed the English exam.

Brooklyn students did better in math than in English: in District 15, 76.7 percent of fourth-graders performed at the proficient level in math, while in District 14, 64.3 percent of fourth-graders were proficient. In District 13, 58.1 percent of fourth-graders passed math.

At P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights, 86.1 percent of fourth-graders passed English, and 90.2 percent passed math. At P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill, 90.6 percent of fourth-graders passed English and 85.7 percent passed math.

At P.S. 261 in Boerum Hill, 63.6 percent of fourth-graders were proficient in English, and 68.6 percent passed math. And at the PAVE Academy Charter School in Red Hook, 60.9 percent of fourth-graders passed English, while 91.3 percent passed math.

Statewide, test scores were higher in both subjects, with 64.8 percent of students meeting or exceeding the standard in math and 55.1 percent in English.

Charter school students statewide scored slightly higher than the state average in math with 68.7 percent meeting standards, but less well in English, with 49.2 percent meeting standards. But the mayor said that charter school students in the city did better, with 72 percent passing the math test this year, and 51.5 percent passing English.

Scores on 2009’s test were much higher, but in 2010 more correct answers were required for students to be graded as proficient. In 2011 additional questions lengthened the exam.

Dozens of questions in the exam had to be thrown out last year after they were discovered to be so confusing even adults couldn’t make sense of them. Even so, according to the mayor, New York City students made slight gains in all grade levels.

“Our Administration’s core philosophy is that if we raise our expectations, our kids will reach them,” said Bloomberg in a statement. “There’s still much more work to do, but there’s no question our students are headed in the right direction.”

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.

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