Making Progress on Our
After long years of
failure and stagnation, we’re
reforming our City’s public schools. That’s what
Federal law requires. That’s also what our duty to our
youngster’s demands. There’s no magic formula for
turning the schools around; the job won’t be accomplished
overnight. But over the last year, under our “Children
First” school reform plan, we’ve made a good start.
And that’s what the student scores on City math and State
and City English Language Arts tests released recently demonstrate.
The scores were mixed
but encouraging overall. In some grades there was noteworthy
progress, even though in others there were setbacks. With
more than 470,000 students taking these City and State tests,
that’s not really
a surprise. We’ll
focus on making improvements where there were problems; that’s
why the tests are useful. But first, let’s look at where
there were advances.
The greatest gains were
in math test scores. In the 3rd, 6th, and 7th grades, the
percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards was
the highest since the tests were introduced, five years ago.
In the 6th grade, there was a 25% year-to-year improvement.
Why? Well, since last September, when we instituted our citywide
curriculum, there has simply been more math taught in the
classrooms, starting with a minimum of one hour every day
in the lower grades. And we’ve
also introduced math coaches in the schools—expert and
experienced teachers who help other teachers do their best
was good news concerning the City and
State English Language Arts, or reading, scores. Our 3rd
and 8th grade students recorded their biggest one-year gains,
and the highest scores at those grade levels ever. There
also was heartening overall progress by students in our middle
schools. In fact, New York City middle school students did
better on the State ELA test than middle school students
in any of the rest of the State’s largest cities.
other grades, there were relatively small drop-offs in scores.
But is that cause for despair? No! Looking at the results
from the first year of any big undertaking—like, for example, our
city’s historic 11-year success in reducing crime—someone
could always find reasons to be discouraged. What’s far
more important is the broad, positive trend these test scores
reveal—a very encouraging sign that our classroom reforms
are working. Consider this: among 3rd grade students affected
by our new promotion policy, the number who tested at Level
One—which means that they’re working far below
grade level—was about 11,700. That’s far fewer
than had been predicted, which shows that the extra effort
and attention to instruction we gave those youngsters earlier
this year really paid off.
All our 1.1 million
public school students are coming to the end of the current
school year. These latest test scores show that more and
more of them are learning the skills they’ll need to succeed in the higher grades and
in adult life. They, their teachers, and their parents deserve
congratulations on the progress they’ve made. There’s
still much to be done before all our youngsters are achieving
to their full potential. But these test scores show that our
students, and our schools, are at last moving in the right