Last week saw the unveiling of the results of the Common Core-aligned state English and math exams. The results showed an increase in students scoring proficiently in both subjects this year compared with 2014. According to city officials, New York City students narrowed the achievement gap with New York state students in English.
This year is the third year of Common Core-aligned testing in New York.
According to the results, in 2015, 35.2 percent of students met proficiency standards in math, up from 34.2 percent last year. In English, 30.4 percent of students met the standards, up from 28.4 percent last year. Also, the number of students scoring at Level 1 (the lowest level of proficiency) across New York City has decreased by 7,000 students in English and 4,700 in math. The number of students performing at Level 4 increased as well. The stats also indicate that New York City students improved across all ethnic groups.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina were pleased with the results.
“This improvement represents painstaking work—student by student, classroom by classroom, and school by school,” said de Blasio in a statement. “It’s steady progress, and we are going to continue building on it. We’ve set the highest standards anywhere in the nation, and the reforms we are undertaking are giving students, teachers and families the tools they need to succeed.”
“More New York City students are meeting the higher bar set by the Common Core standards, and that is a testament to the extensive work we’ve done to innovate and improve instruction across our schools,” added Farina in her statement. “I am confident that we’ll build on this progress moving forward as we continue to focus on Common Core-aligned professional development and instructional practice, strengthen schools through our new school support structure and drive improvement across the critical elements of the Framework for Great Schools.
“While this progress is meaningful, we still have a lot of work to do to achieve our ultimate goal of putting every student on the path to college, meaningful careers and a lifetime of learning,” concluded Fariña.
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said he was pleased by the results as well. “We’re seeing progress, particularly in reading, thanks to a city administration that really cares about student learning, increased availability of appropriate curriculum and training and hard work by teachers and students,” said Mulgrew.
However, the pro-charter school organization StudentsFirstNY didn’t see the improvements touted by the mayor, schools commissioner and Mulgrew. The group feels that the number of students scoring at Level 1 is still “unacceptably high” and pointed out that 1 in 5 Black/Hispanic students are on grade level compared with 1 in 2 white students.
“Today’s test results paint an honest picture of how New York’s students are doing—and unfortunately, our system is failing to educate too many children,” StudentsFirstNY Executive Director Jenny Sedlis in a statement. “We cannot deny the public school crisis these numbers so plainly expose. When more than two-thirds of students aren’t being taught to read and write on grade level, you have to question who this system is designed to serve. Incremental gains are not going to’cut it.’ We need to dramatically improve teacher quality and school choices if we’re going to prepare students for college and careers.
“Gov. Andrew Cuomo was right to shine a bright spotlight this year on the desperate need to increase educational opportunity for New York’s students.”
According to StudentsFirstNY, the students who opted out of Common Core were mostly white low performers who aren’t economically disadvantaged.