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Dist. 25 tops fourth-grade reading scores

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"These latest test scores remind us that we need to confront our problems, not cover them up," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a Sunday radio address. He attributed the fourth-grade improvements to the elimination of the third-grade social promotion policy in 2004, under which students had been automatically promoted to the next grade level regardless of preparation.According to statistics released by the state's Department of Education last week, every school district in Queens showed improvements in the percent of fourth-graders meeting or exceeding state English Language Arts standards. Some 68.4 percent of the borough's fourth-grade students met the state standards and 59.5 percent of the city's students made the grade overall.In particular, black and Hispanic fourth-graders made significant improvements, according to the city's Department of Education. Hispanic students scored an average of 11.5 percentage points higher, and black students had a 9.7 percentage point improvement. White fourth-graders scored 6.5 percent points better, and Asian students improved by 6.4 percent points as well. The city did not release ethnic score breakdowns by district."The tremendous gains by our black and Hispanic students and by our students in the city's lowest-performing regions demonstrate that the core curriculum, coaches, new interventions, and professional development for teachers really are paying off for those who were previously left behind," said Schools Chancellor Joel Klein in a statement last week.District 25, which covers Flushing, Whitestone, College Point and parts of Auburndale, marked the most improvement in the borough with 79 percent of its fourth-graders meeting standards, compared to the district's 67 percent last year. In particular, PS 32 in Flushing showed the greatest jump, with 88 percent of its fourth-graders meeting standards up from 66 percent in 2004. And District 26 in Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Glen Oaks and parts of Auburndale, maintaining the city's highest passing percentage at 89 percent, marked a 6 percent increase over last year's 83 percent passing rate.District 27 in Ozone Park and Richmond Hill also had the most drastic improvement in the borough along with District 25. The district had 64 percent of fourth-graders passing this year, compared to 52 percent in 2004. The district's scores were boosted by schools like PS 197 in Far Rockaway that had 57 percent of its fourth-graders passing over last year's 25 percent, the 56.3 percent of students who passed at PS 225 in Rockaway Park over last year's 27.4 percent, and the 24 percent increase at both PS 64 in Ozone Park and PS 66 in Richmond Hill.District 24, serving Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Corona and Elmhurst, and District 29 in Hollis, Laurelton, Queens Village and Springfield Gardens also showed much improvement. In District 24, 65 percent of fourth-graders met standards over last year's 55 percent, including a 20 percent jump at PS 14 in Corona and a 19 percent increase at PS 89 in Elmhurst. However, PS 128 in Middle Village, which last year posted a remarkable 100 percent of its fourth-graders scoring at or above state standards, this year showed a slight drop to 93 percent.For District 29, scores like the 58 percent of Queens Village's PS 34 students who made the grade helped the district bolster its passing rate from 49 percent last year to 59 percent this year. Last year, PS 34 had only 35 percent of its fourth-graders passing the test.One south Queens representative hailed the rise in test scores as "good news." "I'm hoping this is the beginning of a steady march forward in improving achievement levels," said state Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village), who has been a member of the Assembly's Education Committee for 19 years. In western Queens, District 30 students from Astoria, Jackson Heights, and Long Island City also recorded a 9 percent increase, with 68 percent of fourth-graders passing the test this year compared to last year's 59 percent. District 28, covering Forest Hills, Jamaica and Rego Park, had 67 percent of its students making the grade, a 7 percent jump from last year. However, at the eighth-grade level scores dropped throughout the borough. District 28 showed the greatest drop this year, with 39.4 percent of its students meeting the state's requirements compared to 47.9 percent last year. District 24 also registered a decrease with 33.7 percent of its students passing compared to 39.2 percent last year. District 25 passed 46.4 percent of its eighth-graders this year when in 2004 51.7 percent of the district's students made the grade. The scores also decreased in District 29, from 30.9 percent passing in 2004 to 25.9 percent this year. Even District 26, while again registering the city's highest passing rate, showed a drop from 67.8 percent in 2004 to this year's 65.7 percent. District 27 registered a small decrease, with 34.7 percent of students passing this year compared to 35.7 percent last year.Bloomberg pledged to devote more resources to the eighth-grade level through a $40 million funding boost including an expanded summer program.Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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