Federal Test Scores Show Dips by City Students

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Students in fourth and eighth grade at New York City schools scored slightly lower on federal math tests this year compared with 2009, according to scores released Wednesday morning.

The results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation’s report card, showed that the city’s fourth-grade math average dropped 3 points to 234 (on a scale of 500) from 2009, the last time the exams were taken. While federal education officials cautioned that the changes were too small to be significant, that dip diverged from the trend nationally and for other large cities. In 2011, the average fourth-grade math score rose by one point nationally, and two points for cities with populations of 250,000 or more.

Even with the recent declines, New York City’s fourth- and eighth-grade math scores are still up eight points and six points, respectively, since 2003.

Allison Horowitz, a policy analyst with the Education Trust, an advocacy group promoting academic achievement, said a problem was that New York City’s overall averages had not improved as much as those in other cities, though there had been “good progress” in moving students up from the lowest achievement level since 2003.

“Parents in New York City have the same high aspirations for their kids as other parents across the country,” she said. “And we’re not going to get all students where they need to be if all we’re doing is lifting the floor.”

In a press release, the city's Education Department pointed out that since 2003, New York City public school students had made statistically significant improvements in math and reading scores that mirrored or exceeded trends seen across the nation.