FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, October 11, 2006

For More Information contact:

Jonathan Burman, Tom Dunn, Alan Ray at (518) 474-1201

Internet: **http://www.nysed.gov**

For the first time, students this year took State tests in Grade 3-8 math. Those results, released today, showed a steady and relatively higher level of achievement in the elementary grades and lower achievement starting in Grade 5 and continuing through Grade 8.

They also showed that student achievement overall in Grade 3-8 ranged from about 35 percent meeting all the standards in the Big 4 Cities to about 74 percent in Average Need Districts to 86 percent in Low Need Districts.

“Despite improvements in elementary school over the past several years, these results show substantially lower achievement from the fifth to the eighth grade,” State Education Commissioner Richard Mills said. “The neediest children require more help as they enter the middle grades. Schools need to improve the math curriculum, instruction, and professional development.”

It is not possible to make direct comparisons between the 1999-2005 math results in grades 4 and 8 and the 2006 math results in grades 4 and 8 because New York State’s math standards have been raised.

In 2004 the Board of Regents appointed a Math Standards Committee, consisting of math teachers and other experts statewide, to revise the math learning standards. Their recommendations, adopted by the Regents in 2005 after extensive positive public comment, called for introducing more advanced math content into the lower grades in elementary and middle school. For example, some algebra and geometry content that had been in grades 5-8 was moved to grade 4, and some algebra and geometry content that had been in high school math moved to grade 8. Therefore, the 2006 grade 4 and 8 math tests were more difficult that tests in previous years.

Statewide math scores in grade 4 dropped by about 7 percentage points and scores in grade 8 dropped by almost 2 percentage points. This drop in scores reflects the higher standards in math in those grades.

Nonetheless, the scores in those grades are considerably higher than the scores in 1999, when the first statewide math test was given. In 2006, 78 percent of students in grade 4 met all the standards vs. 67 percent in 1999. Also in 2006, 54 percent of grade 8 students met all the standards vs. 38 percent in 1999.

Statewide, 81 percent met all the standards in Grade 3, declining slightly to 78 percent in Grade 4. There is a larger drop after that, with 68 percent meeting the standards in Grade 5 and declining to 54 percent in Grade 8.

There are substantial differences in performance among the Big 5 Cities. New York City and Yonkers were highest in Grade 3, with 75 and 74 percent respectively meeting all the standards. In Grade 8, New York City was highest, with 39 percent meeting all the standards. New York City led with about 57 percent of all students throughout Grade 3-8 meeting all the standards.

Scores on the tests are divided into four levels of achievement:

· Level 4 – Exceeds the standards

· Level 3 – Meets all the standards

· Level 2 – Meets some but not all the standards or partially meets the standards

· Level 1 – Shows serious academic problems.

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