July 17, 2012
An early look at this year’s state test scores shows that the percentage of students rated “proficient” in reading and math inched upward in New York City and across the state.
In a press release announcing the scores today, state officials called the gains “incremental” but warned that scores still have a long way to go before they show that all students are on a path toward being prepared for college.
According to the data released today, 46.9 percent of city students tested in grades 3-8 met the state’s proficiency standard on the English language arts exam, compared with 44 percent last year. The proportion of students rated proficient in math increased to 60 percent from 57.3 percent a year ago.
City students still lagged behind the state as a whole, where 55 percent of students scored proficient in reading and 65 percent scored proficient in math. But the city’s scores increased by a wider margin than the state’s. Across the state, reading proficiency increased by 2.3 points and math proficiency rose by 1.5 points.
New York City also did better than several of the other large urban districts that it is often compared to. Scores increased in Yonkers and Syracuse, but they fell in Rochester and Buffalo.
“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,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement. “There’s still much more work to do, but there’s no question our students are headed in the right direction.”
In press releases, both city and state officials sounded a cautionary tone about the vast numbers of students who are still considered not proficient in the two core subjects.
“There is some positive momentum in these numbers,” Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said in a statement. “But too many of our students, especially students of color, English Language Learners and special education students, are currently not on a course for college and career readiness.”
Black and Latino students posted score increases greater than the state’s overall rise, but their scores remain low. Students with disabilities saw a slight increase in their math and reading scores. But the percentage of students who are learning the English language rated proficient in reading actually dropped this year to 11.7 percent, from from 12.6 percent last year.
Sean Corcoran, a professor at New York University’s Institute forEducation and Social Policy who researches testing, said the state is right to herald this year’s scores as a sign of incremental improvement. It is particularly remarkable that the proficiency rate rose in a year when the tests were longer and included sample questions aligned to tougher learning standards.
“It says something that they can go up in light of that,” he said.
But Corcoran warned that impending changes to the tests make this year’s gains less relevant — and less predictive of future scores.
“The irony is that this is not going to be comparable to next year,” when the state assessments align to new Common Core standards, he said. “When they change the standards and the content, the numbers are all going to go down.”
Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott will present the test score data at a press conference this afternoon at City Hall. We’ll report more details from there, and as we crunch the city and state numbers.