Saturday, March 28, 2015

School Effectiveness in New York

A Sad Record

A New York paper, the Daily News, recently published city students' scores on recent reading and math tests.  The paper found the numbers "shocking, depressing and damning."

Some data points:

    -- "Just 29 percent of students in the nation’s largest public school system scored at the appropriate grade level on state reading tests. . . . Only one in three city students meets state standards in math."

    -- Nearly 284,000 kids attended public schools last year where less than one student in five could read at their own grade level.

    -- In 2014, in three city schools, not a single third-grader passed the state math test. In 11 schools, not a single third-grader passed in reading.  In another 89 schools, not one African-American or Hispanic third-grade student was reading or doing math at grade level.

The New Test

Perhaps these results should be taken with a grain of salt.  They are the second year's results from the new Common Core tests, which are said to be more difficult than previous ones.

Many people nationwide are upset with "high-stakes testing" that require teachers to "teach to the test."

I don't think that is the problem here. The scores are for third-grade reading and math, basic subjects.  No rejiggering of curriculums should be necessary to prepare for tests that measure primary-grade reading ability and fluency with early arithmetic skills.

But let's be generous even so:  Let's say that the new standards are so harsh that the school district has twice as many students performing at grade level as succeeded on the new test.   The results still would be discouraging:  only 58 percent of third graders reading at grade level; only 142,000 students in schools where less than 20 percent of students read at grade level, and only 44 or 45 schools with ZERO minority third graders doing grade-level work in either math or reading.

I wouldn't enroll a child of mine in such a school district.  But I have options.  Poor people in New York generally do not have options.

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