English scores down slightly, math scores up on grade 3-8 tests

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Average test scores for students in grades 3 to 8 dropped slightly in English and improved modestly in math compared to last year, when the state  raised standards of achievement to better ensure future success, according to data released today.

While most students in New York reached or exceeded the new proficiency standards, performance remains low overall and stubborn gaps in achievement persist, state education officials said in releasing the scores.

On the English/language arts test, 52.8 percent of students met or exceeded the standard, down from 53.2 percent in 2010. In math, 63.3 percent met or exceeded proficiency, up from 61 percent last year.

The figures are dramatically lower for minority students: 35 percent of blacks and 37.2 percent of Hispanics met or exceeded English standards, and 44 percent of blacks and 50.2 percent of Hispanics met or exceeded math standards.

The state Board of Regents adjusted the scoring system last July to make it harder to achieve mastery after learning from experts that New York’s standards were not high enough to guarantee students who reached the bar would do well in high school and college.

That resulted in a drop of roughly 25 points in math and science after several years of steady increases – from 77 percent in English and 86 percent in math in 2009. The losses were greater for black and Hispanic students. Students whose first language is not English and those with disabilities did not fare well either under the new system.

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said the results underscore the need for Regents to push their reform agenda aggressively.

“Through aggressive implementation at the district and school level of higher standards, better and more accurate assessments, a more content rich curriculum and a teacher evaluation system aimed at supporting teacher excellence, we can make tremendous strides towards ensuring all of our children succeed,” she said.

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