The Real Score on the 2011 Test Scores
Will the PEP Confront the Numbers?
By Zakiyah Ansari
Next, Wednesday, August 17th is the next Panel for Education Policy (PEP) meeting at Murry Bergtraum High School, and on the agenda are contracts and the budget. Does anyone besides me notice a glaring omission from the agenda? What about the educational crisis surrounding the recently released test scores?
As a parent, I am frustrated and angered by the lack of accountability of the Department of Education and, ultimately, the Mayor. This is all too familiar! It was the same time last year when New York State re-calibrated the test scores, and there was no mention of scores on the August PEP agenda. If the Department of Education doesn’t acknowledge that our schools are in an educational crisis and open a public dialogue about it, how will we ever be able to address the problem? Will the PEP learn its lesson and confront the issue this year?
In case you haven’t heard, NYC students’ scores on the ELA test barely budged this year, and only one-third of Black and Latino children can read and write at state standards. In total, more than 234,000 NYC students failed to meet state standards in English Language Arts (ELA) – more students than are in the entire Philadelphia school district. And in the midst of all the emphasis on getting students ready for college and careers, 8th grade scores actually fell.
In the 100 lowest-performing schools, the ELA scores were completely stagnant. This year, as last year, only 15% of students in those schools met state standards in ELA. If 15% is not sobering enough, that means that out of the 27,726 children in those 100 schools, only 4,235 are proficient in reading and writing. And the racial achievement gap has actually grown.
This is not about being for or against testing; it is about acknowledging that our children and schools are currently being judged by test scores, yet the administration does nothing to offer supports to the most struggling schools time and time again.
Some of the lowest-performing districts – like districts 7, 9 and 12 in the Bronx, where only 1 in 4 students are meeting standards – showed some of the least progress this year. And in these districts, boys are having the most trouble. In district 9, for example, only 10% of 8th grade boys can read and write at state standards. How ironic that the Mayor is willing to put in millions of his personal money for job-training initiatives for Black and Latino boys; but if the Mayor’s Department of Education was doing a better job educating Black and Latino boys, then Bloomberg wouldn’t have to use his money.
Are we in an educational crisis in NYC? What should we be doing to help our children? Read some of the facts on the 2011 test scores below.
Few Students Are Meeting State Academic Standards
- 44% of NYC students met state standards in English Language Arts (ELA) this year, up just 1.5 points from last year
- 35% of Black and Latino students met state standards, compared to 66% of White students
- 57% of NYC students met state standards in Math this year, up just 3 points from last year
- Just 44% of Black students and 49% of Latino students met state standards, compared to 78% of White students
- Average scale scores (the average number of points that a student actually scores on the test) in ELA and Math stayed basically the same across the city this year
Racial Achievement Gap Has Grown
- In 2006, the Black-White gap in ELA was 30.5 points; today, it is 31.2 points
- In 2006, the Latino-White gap in ELA was 29.4 points; today, it is 31.3 points
- In 2006, the Black-White gap in Math was 30.7 points; today, it is 33.7 points
- In 2006, the Latino-White gap in Math was 27.5 points; now, its is 28.7 points
The Eye of the Storm
- In 202 schools – one in every five elementary and middle schools – more than three-quarters of students did not meet state standards in ELA
- In 68 schools, more than 85% of students did not meet state standards in ELA. This is more schools at this level of failure than last year.
- The three lowest-performing districts in NYC – districts 7, 9 and 12 in the Bronx — made some of the least progress. District 12 scores declined, district 9 scores stayed exactly the same, and district 7 scores increased less than half a point.
- ELA scores in the lowest-performing 100 schools were completely stagnant. This year, as last year, only 15% of students in those schools met state standards in ELA.