Average Scores Remain Stable Since 2009
Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott announced today that scores for New York City students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have improved significantly on three of the four math and reading tests between 2003 and 2011. This year’s results – released as part of the Nation’s Report Card: Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) Reading and Mathematics 2011 – show that since 2003, New York City public school students improved an average of eight points in 4th grade math, six points in 8th grade math, and seven points in 4th grade reading—all statistically significant increases that mirror or exceed trends seen across the nation. Also since 2003, the gap between black and white students in New York City has narrowed on all four exams, and on all four since 2009. The average score in both math and reading for black fourth graders in New York City is now higher than for black fourth graders nationwide and in the rest of New York State. On 8th grade reading, New York City students showed a gain of three points since 2003, not a statistically significant increase. This trend highlights the challenge of improving literacy in middle school grades, and the need for a more rigorous curriculum aligned with the new Common Core Standards.
“By the ‘gold standard’ for measuring academic progress, our students have made impressive gains since 2003—especially compared to their peers across New York State and the nation,” said Chancellor Walcott. “However, these results also show the urgent need to improve our middle schools and roll out a new curriculum that takes our students to the next level. We cannot be satisfied until all of our students are on track for success in life after high school.”
“On all four tests, low-income students in New York City now outperform their peers across the nation, and that’s a reason to be proud,” said Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky. “The key challenge is to change our instruction and improve our assessments so that students keep moving forward. Our work ahead will require students to do more critical thinking, write research papers and defend their ideas in essays, and read the type of non-fiction texts they will encounter in college.”
While New York City students have shown improvement since 2003 on three of four exams, students in the rest of New York State have remained flat or declined significantly on all four. As a result, New York City students have closed a large gap with their New York State counterparts since 2003: by 10 points in 4th grade math; eight points in 8th grade math; 10 points in 4th grade reading; and three points in 8th grade reading.
The average score changes for New York City students between 2009 and 2011 were not statistically significant, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which performed the official analysis of NAEP results: City students showed slight declines on 4th and 8th grade math, no change on 4th grade reading, and an increase on 8th grade reading. In the rest of New York State, students showed a significant drop in 4th grade math, and no significant changes on the other three exams.
Among students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch – the common measure of poverty in public schools – New York City has made notable gains since 2003. Low-income students in New York City have improved nine points in 4th grade math, 10 points in 8th grade math, and seven points in 4th grade reading. With the exception of 8th grade reading, these students now score higher on average than their peers throughout the nation and the rest of New York State.
The percentage of New York City students scoring at or above proficient has also climbed significantly since 2003 in 4th grade math and 4th grade reading: by 11 points and 7 points, respectively. Overall, 32 percent of City students were proficient in 4th grade math; 24 percent in 8th grade math; 29 percent in 4th grade reading; and 24 percent in 8th grade reading.
To address lagging performance in 8th grade reading and ensure that more 8th grade students reach proficiency on NAEP, two major initiatives are already underway in New York City. First, City schools have begun to align their curricula and teaching with the Common Core Standards, which will serve the basis for new State exams beginning in 2014-15. The new literacy standards place a greater emphasis on critical thinking and non-fiction texts—important preparation for the middle school years in which students receive more exposure to academic texts and research papers. Second, New York City has embarked on a new strategy to turn around middle schools, announced in a speech
by Chancellor Walcott in September. The new strategy commits $15 million of the City’s allotted textbook budget to buy non-fiction books for middle schools aligned with the Common Core Standards; and it includes a bold plan to open at least 50 new, high-performing middle schools and phase out those that continue to fail their students.