Despite test score drop, officials say higher state standards are positive step for students

Mayor Michael Bloomberg discusses the drop in test scores under new, more rigorous, state standards.  Credit: Spencer T. Tucker/Mayor's Office
Mayor Michael Bloomberg discusses the drop in test scores under new, more rigorous, state standards.
Credit: Spencer T. Tucker/Mayor’s Office

Though the number of city students passing reading and math exams has dropped dramatically under rigorous new state standards, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other officials were optimistic about what the tests represent for students.

“The tests set the bar higher in terms of the skill sets they were expected to have mastered,” Bloomberg said Wednesday.

In the city, only 26 percent of third- through eighth-grade students passed exams on English and 30 percent passed math exams. Under last year’s easier tests, 47 percent of students passed English and 60 percent passed math.

“It’s simply a different measure,” Bloomberg said, noting any comparison was like comparing apples to oranges or players in the major and minor leagues.

“We have to make sure that we give our kids constantly the opportunity to move towards the major leagues,” he said.

The exams taken this spring were the first in the city aligned with a new, higher set of standards known as the Common Core.

Credit: Department of Education
Credit: Department of Education

The new standards, which the city has been bracing for since 2010, emphasize critical thinking and better prepare students for college and careers, officials said.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott noted that high school graduation rates are no longer the “be-all-end-all.”

Moving to the new standards was “gutsy,” Bloomberg said, but that “children will benefit from that for many years to come.” 

Of the state’s five biggest cities, New York students had the highest percentage of passing scores. In Buffalo, for instance, only 12 percent of students passed the new English exams and 10 percent passed math.

The gap between English and math scores in the city compared to statewide results has decreased since last year.

“Our teachers are doing a spectacular job,” Bloomberg said of the decrease.

Still, parents, advocates and teachers have argued that using test scores to measure students’ progress is ineffective.

United Federation of Teacher President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement that “a decade of test prep—rather than real learning—has left New York City school children far behind where they should be.”

Bloomberg responded that tests are the best way to know what’s working. 

“How do you know what you’re doing without testing?” he asked.

The new scores also showed that the city still faces a significant racial achievement gap. Half of white students in the city passed math exams, while only 15 percent of black students and 19 percent of hispanic students passed.

Those scores, officials said, were still higher than the average in the next highest cities.

As schools continue to strengthen their curriculums for the new standards, over $100 million will be allocated to teacher development. This summer, 15,000 teachers will attend sessions on Common Core curriculums. 

Officials said neither students nor teachers will be evaluated based on this year’s scores.

Bloomberg made a point of saying the new standards will help students compete in today’s “knowledge” economy. Going from planting seeds to manufacturing is an easier leap, he said.

“Going from the agricultural world to the industrial world is very different than going from the industrial world to the knowledge world,” Bloomberg said. “It’s going to be one of the great challenges.”

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.