District 26 tops city scores on English language exam

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More elementary school students in Queens are meeting state standards on standardized English Language exams than in previous years, but a significant number of middle-school students are falling short of minimum requirements, according to annual test results published last week.

District 26, covering the communities of Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck and Fresh Meadows, had 86.1 percent of its elementary students at or above the state’s standards, the highest percentage of elementary students in the city passing the exam.

District 25 in Flushing had 69.1 percent of its elementary students meeting or exceeding the state standards, while District 28 in Jamaica showed 65.6 percent of its elementary students surpassing the requirements. The percentage of students in District 28 scoring above the state standards has increased 28.3 percent during the last four years, the largest gain among any school district in Queens.

“This is a good district and it has always done well in bringing in new concepts and working to make sure children learn,” said Arlene Fleishman, president of District 25’s school board.

The statistics were released May 20 by state Education Commissioner Richard Mills.

Other districts’ percentages of elementary students meeting or exceeding the state requirements were: District 24 in Glendale with 60 percent; District 30 in Astoria with 7.9 percent; District 29 in Queens Village with 4.1 percent; and District 27 in Ozone Park with 52.7 percent.

The state’s English Language Arts exam is administered to fourth- and eighth-grade students throughout New York. Students earning scores of 3 or 4 are considered to be meeting or exceeding the state’s standards, while those earning scores of 1 or 2 are considered to be below standards.

The test is administered to determine students’ levels in listening, reading and writing comprehension.

Only one Queens school district, District 26, had more than 50 percent of its middle-school population scoring at or above the state standards on the English Language exam, posting a 64.8 percent passing rate. But that percentage was accompanied by a 7 percent decrease in students earning scores of 3 and 4 on the state exams during the last four years.

Sharon Maurer, president of the school board for District 26, which covers much of Queens, said the decrease to a large extent reflected the increase in classroom sizes in her district. She also said the state standardized tests do not incorporate the city’s curriculum and could be a factor in why student performance is declining in her district.

“We have to work harder on the middle-school level,” Maurer said. “Something is not happening that needs to happen.”

In the other six Queens school districts the majority of middle-school students failed to meet the state standards in listening, reading and writing.

District 25 had 46.5 percent of its students earning scores of 3 or 4, while District 28 had 41.1 percent, District 29 had 33 percent, District 30 had 32.3 percent, District 24 had 31.9 percent and District 27 had 26.3 percent.

District 27 had close to 20 percent of its middle-school students scoring a 1, the lowest possible score on the exam, while District 30 had 13.9 percent of its students posting the same test result.

District 29, despite its low percentage of middle-school students earning passing grades, posted a 12.9 percent increase from last year in the number of students receiving scores of 3 or 4.

Fleishman said she did not understand why students’ test scores dropped from elementary to middle school. She said, however, that district officials citywide will be examining the results to try to come up with an explanation for students’ performances.

“I am very disappointed in what is happening in our middle schools,” she said. “I would say we have to look very deeply at what is going on.”

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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