The agency announced last week that third-, fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-graders in public schools achieved a record high on the city's English Language Arts and math tests in 2005. The total number of students meeting or surpassing city standards in these grades jumped 14.4 percent in English and 7.5 percent in math over last year's results, according to the Department of Education. Moreover, for the first time half of all city students in these grades met or exceeded city standards for math, and 54.8 percent of these students made the grade on the English city tests. The city did not release scores for individual school districts.Black and Hispanic students also made their greatest one-year score jump as well as their best performance ever on these city tests. The percentage of black students in these grades passing the English test jumped to 45.9 percent from 31.5 percent last year, and on the math test 38.9 percent made the grade this year over 31.6 percent last year. For Hispanic students in these grades, 47.5 percent passed the English requirements over last year's 32.4 percent, and 42.3 percent passed the math test compared to 34.9 percent in 2004. "Over the last two years we have begun to bring order and accountability to a system that had been dysfunctional for decades," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement June 1. "By providing students with the resources they need and holding them, their teachers, and ourselves accountable for producing results, our schoolchildren are now receiving the education they deserve."The performance comes on the heels of recent results showing that the city's fourth-graders had also set records in meeting or exceeding state reading requirements, although New York City eighth-graders posted lower passing rates this year. In Queens, 68.4 percent of the borough's fourth-grade students met the state standards for reading this year, compared to 59.5 percent of the city's students making the grade in 2005.Some 53.5 percent of the city's third-graders passed the English test, compared to 45.7 percent last year. On the math test, 64.8 percent of third-graders passed, compared to 57.7 percent last year.The starkest improvement came for fifth-graders taking the English test, with 68.8 percent passing this year over last year's 49.3 percent. The city's fifth-graders also did well with math, with 53.7 percent passing in 2005 compared to 38.5 percent last year.The Department of Education attributed this dramatic improvement to the new 5th Grade Saturday Preparatory Academy, which helped at-risk students who attended a majority of the weekend sessions to improve their test scores.In sixth grade, this year 48.2 percent of students met or exceeded city English standards over 33.3 percent in 2004. In addition, 41.4 percent of sixth-graders passed the math test, a modest gain on the 40.2 percent last year.Nearly half of the city's seventh-graders passed the English test with 48.5 percent meeting or exceeding standards, a jump from last year's 33.5 percent. And on the math test, 40.3 percent passed city requirements in 2005, compared to 33.6 percent last year.The improved test results seem to bear out the legacy of the Children First educational reform policies that Bloomberg and his appointee, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, began implementing in 2003, which included eliminating the social promotion policy which allowed third-graders to advance to fourth grade regardless of preparation as well as the 5th Grade Saturday Preparatory Academy."There is no doubt that our children and our schools are performing better than they were before we instituted the Children First reforms," Klein said in a statement. "Our new citywide core curriculum, coaches, professional development, interim assessments, and aggressive intervention programs for struggling students, coupled with the enormously hard work of our teachers and other school staff, all contributed to these tremendous gains."Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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