New York State elementary and middle school students are doing increasingly better on statewide math exams, while no change can be seen in reading exam scores.
The State Education Department reported 36% of students across the state passing the math exam, an increase from last years’ 31%. The results of the reading exams remained the same from last year, with 31% passing statewide.
“This doesn’t mean that our kids aren’t reading and writing,” NYC schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said. “It means that in order to be ready for the workforce of tomorrow, you need more than to just be on average level. You need to be on proficiency and mastery level, which is really different than what we’ve expected in the past.”
This is the second year the state has administered tests in-line with Common Core standards, which place a higher emphasis on critical analysis and problem solving, rather than simple memorization, in the exams given each year between grades 3 through 8 each April.
As one of the first states to implement the Common Core testing, New York saw a sharp backlash after the first year of testing saw a sharp drop in test scores. The last year of the previous testing saw 55% of students pass the reading test and 65% pass math.
The teachers unions blamed the lower scores on improperly trained educators, while parents thought the exams were simply too difficult.
State legislature passed a bill in June that would deny teachers from being punished based solely on student scores.
According to Alex Silverman for WCBS 880, had the older exams been used this year, scores would have been around 90%.
Alice Brown, an official in the city Department of Education’s Office of Teaching and Learning, stated that of the students who scored a level 1 (the lowest level on the exam), there were 5% less this year than last year.
Also showing improvements were minority students and special education students.
Meanwhile, state education commissioner John B. King Jr. has vehemently defended the exams, saying they are a better test of student’s college preparedness than the older exams were.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio plans on using the rising test scores as a sign of progress, declaring them “good news.”
“It’s very nice to have a moment we can celebrate some good, but it is never a moment to rest on our laurels. It’s only a chance to reload and go deeper because we have a lot of work ahead,” de Blasio said.
De Blasio hopes to see scores increase even more next year as teachers receive more training and parents become more involved. He would like to see “100% proficiency for our children.”
Added Fariña, “I won’t be happy until at the end of this year I can stand before you and say we’ve doubled or tripled the amount of proficiency. It could be a lot better and will be and I promise you that.”