The share of city students in grades 3 to 8 who met English standards in 2017 was 40.6 percent, up from 38.0 percent the previous year. In math, 37.8 percent of city students tested as proficient in 2017, up from 36.4 percent the previous year.
New York City students outperformed the rest of the state for the second year in a row in English, while the performance gap between New York City and the rest of the state narrowed slightly in math. Statewide, 39.2 percent of students met English standards and 42.0 percent met math standards this year.
“The gains are consistent across every borough,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference at Department of Education headquarters in lower Manhattan.
“Thanks to the efforts of teachers and other staff members across the city, our students are making solid, sustainable progress and the nation’s largest school system is moving in the right direction,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
New York City scores have risen every year since 2013, when the state introduced tests aligned with the Common Core Learning Standards. Over that five-year period, the number of students meeting standards in English has increased by 54 percent, from 26.4 to 40.6 percent of all students, while math proficiency rates have increased by 27 percent, from 29.6 percent to 37.8 percent of all students.
“This convinces us that more progress is possible, and we’re going to go a lot further,” de Blasio said.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña praised a provision in the 2014 DOE–UFT contract that set aside time in the work week for professional development. “That is crucial,” she said.
She also credited the DOE’s Universal Literacy initiative, which launched in four districts in September 2016 and expands to another 14 districts this September. The DOE places literacy coaches in each elementary school in these districts to work with K–2 teachers on effective strategies.
UFT Vice President for Elementary Schools Karen Alford said the city’s emphasis on professional development, literacy training and early childhood education has made a big difference and will continue to have an impact on student achievement. “We’re giving our teachers the tools they need to make it happen, and we’re reaching students at an earlier stage so they are better prepared to learn in the classroom,” she said.
In New York City, all racial groups made progress on English and math tests, but a significant achievement gap remained between Asian and white students and their black and Hispanic counterparts. English language learners and students with disabilities also posted slight improvements in their test scores.
At the 57 elementary and middle schools in the city’s Renewal School Program, the percentage of students who passed the reading tests increased by 3.2 percentage points over the previous year, while the percentage who passed the math tests rose by 1.5 points.
The mayor said some closures and more mergers were under consideration. “Some will continue to succeed, some will need more time and some will undoubtedly close,” de Blasio said.
A small number of New York City students — 4 percent or 17,234 students — opted out of both tests. The test refusal rate statewide edged down to 19 percent of students, from 21 percent the previous year.
New York State reduced the number of questions and eliminated time limits for students taking the math and ELA exams in 2016. In 2018, the number of days devoted to state tests will be cut, and work will continue at the city and state levels on the development and approval of a broader menu of assessment options for use in the future.