Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chanceller Joel Klein happily announced that New York City elementary and middle school students "made significant gains at every grade level on the State’s annual math test, substantially narrowing the achievement gap with students in the rest of New York State." Now, 81.8% of city student are at or above their grade-level math standards, compared to 88.9% statewide. of students in the rest of the State.
Bloomberg referred to his takeover of school control, crowing, "Our schools have made a remarkable turnaround since 2002, and New York City is now proof that you shouldn’t have to choose between living in a big city and sending your children to excellent public schools. It’s happening because we are putting children first and holding our schools accountable for results."
United Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, usually an outspoken critic of the mayor, said in what the Daily News called a lovefest, "What we've seen in the last seven years is a cohesion and a stability and resources that we did not have beforehand, and a lot of that was because Mayor Bloomberg said, 'I'm taking responsibility.'" She also offered her support of mayor control of schools—an issue Albany is debating—but wants "some top-to-bottom accountability, some checks and balances and some transparency," too.
The NY Times reports, "In New York City, 82 percent of students in Grades 3 through 8 passed the test, compared with 74 percent last year and just 57 percent three years ago. Statewide, 86 percent of students passed the test, compared with 81 percent last year.... There was also evidence that the gap among students of different races was narrowing in a city whose public school students are more than 70 percent black or Hispanic. Black students, for instance, trailed white students by 17 percentage points this year, on average, compared with 31 points in 2006." And the NY Post adds, "The improvements were most dramatic in the historically problematic middle schools, where scores in seventh and eighth grade skyrocketed by nearly 12 percentage points since last year."
State Board of Regents Chancellor Dr. Merryl Tisch cautioned that while the scores were positive, the score to pass may be raised in the future because the test had become predictable. And of NYC's gains, she said it was "strong movement in a right direction," but noted that nearly three-quarters of public school graduates entering the CUNY system needed remedial courses.