FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, September 21, 2006
For More Information contact:
Jonathan Burman, Tom Dunn, Alan Ray at (518) 474-1201
Year-by-Year Trends in School Performance
For the first time, students this year took State tests in Grade 3-8. Those results, released today, showed a steady and relatively higher level of achievement in the elementary grades and lower achievement starting in Grade 6 and continuing through Grade 8.
They also showed that student achievement overall in Grade 3-8 ranged from about 50 percent meeting all the standards in Urban High Need Districts to about 69 percent in Average Need Districts to 83 percent in Low Need Districts.
The schools held onto most of the gains made in previous years in Grade 4. The number of students reaching all the standards was down 2 percent in Grade 4 and up 1 percent in Grade 8.
“Despite improvements in elementary school over the past several years, the Grade 3-8 results show substantially lower achievement starting in the sixth grade,” State Education Commissioner Richard Mills said. “The neediest children require more support. The problem is literacy in the middle grades. These results demand improvement in curriculum, instruction, and professional development.”
The 2006 Grade 4 and 8 tests were comparable to those in previous years but varied slightly. From 1999-2005, New York had tests given only in Grade 4 and 8. The standards are divided into Grade bands (Grade 2-4, for example). Therefore, the Grade 4 test in those years had some content that was somewhat simpler, more similar to lower grades. Some of that simpler content now appears on the Grade 3 test. Therefore, the 2006 Grade 4 test is not equated to previous years’ tests in difficulty. Statistical analysis indicates the 2006 Grade 4 test is therefore slightly more difficult than the previous year’s test and the tests given in prior years. However, the 2006 Grade 8 test showed no difference in difficulty from the 2005 test.
Statewide, 69 percent met all the standards in Grade 3, declining slightly to 67 percent in Grade 5. There is a larger drop after that, with 60 percent meeting the standards in Grade 6 and declining to 49 percent in Grade 8.
There are substantial differences in performance among the Big 5 Cities. New York City was highest in Grade 3, with 62 percent meeting al the standards, and at Grade 8, with 37 percent meeting all the standards. Yonkers was not far behind in those grades. New York City and Yonkers both had about 51 percent of all students throughout Grade 3-8 meeting all the standards.