Thursday is the first day of school for New York City students and marks the beginning of the third year of common core testing, the controversial curriculum shift that aims to standardize classroom topics nationwide. New York City's school system, the largest in the nation, began testing students on the new curriculum two years ago with mixed results that cut, unfortunately, along racial lines. White and asian students scored considerably higher than black and Hispanic students, with under-resourced schools that have a large minority population not faring as well as better-funded charter schools that are able to hand-select their students.

A Daily News article cites a charter school group report that "90 city schools failed to pass a single black or Hispanic student" on the statewide tests. While that sub-headline does a good job illustrating the achievement disparity that the city faces, it isn't exactly true. Many of the schools mentioned in the report had black and Hispanic students score a 2 or 3 on the tests (out of 4), proving at least partial proficiency. While it's not news that a paper would pick up on a press release and report it as fact, it demonstrates how divisive the common core testing has become, especially as it begins to be trumpeted by charter schools as proof of their superiority.

“It’s time for bold and transformational change,” Families for Excellent Schools CEO Jeremiah Kittredge told the Daily News. “We need to acknowledge that this is not the fault of children — it’s the fault of our system.”

But Mayor de Blasio and schools chancellor Farina, for their part, are continuing to attempt to address what has become a multi-tiered school system that privileges some students, but leaves many low-performing minority students behind.

“Students, parents, principals and teachers across this city are working hard to reach the tough new standards set for them," the mayor said in a statement when the test scores were released. "Every parent knows their child’s education is about more than any one test. What these latest results show us is that we’re making progress and we have a lot of work ahead of us. That’s why we are making foundational changes to lift up students in every school, from more after-school academic enrichment for middle schoolers, to more professional development for our teachers, to helping kids enter school at grade level through Pre-K for All."

According to a Department of Education official, chancellor Farina is looking to focus on the low-performing schools by developing individual strategies that would meet the unique needs of each of the struggling schools and the communities they serve. In giving these schools individual attention, she hopes to raise both test scores and graduation rates.

"Our work, and our progress, is only the beginning," Farina said. "The Department has redoubled its efforts, and with this much stronger focus on professional development and instructional practice, student outcomes will continue to improve, leading to greater college and career readiness as we move forward."

This coming school year's test scores will be released next August.