Blacks, Hispanics lag behind whites, Asians on tests

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In a report released Aug. 14, city students made modest gains on state English and math examinations. The boost was touted by the de Blasio administration as a reflection of the city’s successful implementation of Common Core standards, now in its second year since its inception in New York state.

The information in the report is broken down by Grades 3 to 8 as well as by demographics. These numbers reflected an increase from 2013, where students struggled with the new state tests.

Yet despite these gains in almost all grades, there remains an appalling disparity in the scores of black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian peers. This is undressed in the city Department of Education report.

In 2014, nearly 50 percent of Asian and white students, who comprise just a third of city public school students, earned a “proficient” score on the ELA. Two-thirds of Asian students and 55 percent of white students were proficient at math.

Just 18 percent of black and Hispanic students scored “proficient” on the ELA and black and Hispanic students were 18.6 percent and 23 percent proficient at math.

Students with disabilities and English language learners also scored low on these standardized tests. Just 3.6 percent of ELLs met state standards in English, a slight increase from the previous year, and 14 percent of these students scored proficiently in math, up 3 percent from the previous year, but still dramatically behind all city students.

The Common Core differs from conventional standards in that it encourages the use of more challenging materials to foster critical thinking as well as composition and supporting claims with evidence, according to the report. Math instruction focuses on the more practical and everyday uses of math concepts.

Last year, the state realigned its standardized testing to be more in line with Common Core, with an admission that the state’s students were not being prepared adequately for college.

English language learning is of crucial importance for immigrants or the children of immigrants. As was the case with generations of immigrants before them, public schools were for many their first encounter with English in a structured setting. Schools were also instrumental in instilling civic values, critical for participation in American society.

What these statistics show is a dearth of educational opportunities for immigrant students. Effective ELL programs, whether adhering to the Common Core or otherwise, need to be a priority of this mayoral administration, as have the implementation of other Common Core standards and universal pre-kindergarten.

With English fluency, these bilingual students will possess skills highly desired in today’s job market. Current growth in the city’s middle class is driven by college-educated young professionals moving to the city for career opportunities, and there needs to be a priority to empower city students to also compete for these jobs.

The universal pre-K initiative was a centerpiece of the de Blasio campaign. While this will be effective in cultivating good habits and structure, the weakest link remains middle schools, which are unable to properly prepare students for high school admissions, deepening the segregation in the school system, notably at the specialized high schools, where admission is by standardized tests.

While the mayor’s vision to help students at an early stage is laudable, this administration must bridge the gap between childhood and young adult education. In addition, there needs to be an admission that English language learning in this city is at a crisis.

A rising tide may lift all boats, but with so many of our students already underwater, satisfaction in incremental gains is not nearly enough to tackle this ongoing crisis.

The full report can be found at

Posted 12:00 am, August 30, 2014
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Reader feedback

Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
And who is to blame for that?

People need to take responsibility, especially when it comes to education, which should be a priority. If one is falling behind, the blame goes directly to the source, the individual and the family.

We live in a society where too many people play the victim. Take responsibility for yourself.

I am amazed in Jamaica how many very young kids (grade school age) I see either on the subways or outside late at night on a weekdays, when they should be home in bed. There seems to be such a lack of discipline.
Aug. 30, 2014, 6:29 am
Helton from Flushing says:
Well said, Joe. It starts at home. Unfortunately, another stat that Mr. Preshad conveniently ignores is the fact that 70% of all black kids are born out of wedlock. That really puts a kid behind the 8 ball when starting out in life. No one talks enough about this terrible circumstance, which is easily cured. Get married before having kids.

Also convenient is how Asians are lumped in with whites for this article. Aren't Asians considered to be a minority, too? Not for the purposes of this article

From the 2013 Census (, NYC's racial breakdown is:
Whites: 33.3%
Black: 25.5%
Asians: 12.7%
Hispanic: 28.6%

Of course, Asian immigrant parents are well known for their insistence upon education ("Tiger Mom").

As Joe said, it starts with the family. Since so many black families are broken when the kids are born, it's no surprise about the results of these findings.
Aug. 30, 2014, 10:30 am
anon from queens says:
Well I honestly think that the black and Hispanic kids are actually set up for failure. They send these black and Hispanic children to schools with bad teachers and have a lot of corruption in it. I do believe that schooling should start at home, however, the school system need to start taking control over the schools that are heavily populated with black and Hispanic kids. They need to start being held to a higher standard, children need to be left back if they don't know how to count and kids should be heavily punished if the kids don't show up to class. Schools have fallen off of the discipline boat and have gotten too free allowing kids to do whatever they want to do.
Aug. 30, 2014, 4:32 pm
not set up says:
Maybe the cream is rising to the top
Aug. 30, 2014, 4:54 pm
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
anon from queens says:

Well I honestly think that the black and Hispanic kids are actually set up for failure.

And this is why some things never change, placing blame elsewhere instead of where it should be the students and the families, period.

Sure some public schools might not be the best, but it still is up to the students and families to do THEIR BEST, regardless.

Enough of the playing the victim role. Continue this and these stats will stay the same.
Sept. 1, 2014, 7:47 am
agree with Joe from Queens says:
If you come here and do not know English, it is your job to learn it. If you do not plan to learn it then why come? Students who want to learn do learn. I had many teachers who went into teaching to avoid going to Vietnam. Some of them lacked basic spelling skills. Yet I learned and excelled in school.
Sept. 2, 2014, 2:11 pm
Calvin from Richmond Hill says:
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:

And this is why some things never change, placing blame elsewhere instead of where it should be the students and the families, period.

Sure some public schools might not be the best, but it still is up to the students and families to do THEIR BEST, regardless.


Here's where I disagree:

If education was like fishing, kids in great neighborhoods get a net, lures, bait and instructions on how to use them. None of that guarantees they can catch a fish, they'll still need to show effort, but it sure helps.

Kids in poor neighborhoods are given a sharpened stick. With enough effort, they too might catch a fish, but the odds are stacked against them, regardless of how hard they work.

Recognizing this disparity isn't assigning a victim, but rather pointing out a critical flaw in the system. English Language instruction in this city is exceedingly poor. The point of this article isn't to gain sympathy or excuse the poor levels of achievement, but rather to recognize the problem and find a way to fix it. It's always been the role of the schools to educate kids in the English language. This is how the children of immigrants have learned English for generations.

Bridging this achievement gap will require a stronger and more comprehensive ELL plan, from Pre-K to graduation.

All the effort in the world and all the good intentions of parents can't get a kid to succeed at a crappy school. Excellent construction workers with bad blueprints build bad buildings.

I grew up in South Queens and went to a crap JHS. It's a black hole that sucks up achievement. Certain schools set their students up to succeed better than others.
Sept. 2, 2014, 3:18 pm
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
And I agree also with you Calvin, up to a certain point, but then is still falls on the family and individual.

No doubt many of our schools are broken here in NYC, which always being falsely made as the "greatest city in the world" and the city should be ashamed of themselves, but this issue has been going on for decades and nothing changes. So until that changes families must put education as a high priority.

Of course students in an amazing school will more than likely do much better than students in a crappy school in a lower economic community, but that is even more reason for families to be even more pro-active.

I will say it again as far as my community goes. I see very young kids up and outside very late at night on a school night. Do you think these kids will do well at any school under any circumstances. Then I see young kids who either speak little English or none, I mean they are destined to fail. It is imperative for everyone living in the United States to learn English, the most spoken language in the world.

Your analogy about excellent construction workers, while well meaning, does not really cut it with this situation, but I get the point you are making.

But too many people in our society love to play the victim role, it has been way too common these days.
Sept. 2, 2014, 7:10 pm

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