Poor Students Improving in Math and Reading, Report Card Shows

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Buried in the reading and math results released on Wednesday in the report of the National Assessment of Educational Progress was a glimmer of good news for New York City.

Even as eighth-grade math scores dipped slightly, Winnie Hu reports in The New York Times:

... New York City showed significant improvement in narrowing the achievement gap for poor students over a decade. Eighth-grade students eligible for free and reduced lunch scored 14 points lower on reading than those who were not eligible in 2011, compared with 30 points lower in 2003.

The achievement gap for blacks also appeared to shrink slightly in the city. In 2011, black students averaged 26 points lower than white students on reading tests in fourth-grade, compared with 29 points lower in 2002. In math, they averaged 22 points lower in fourth-grade and 30 points lower in eighth grade, compared with 25 points and 36 points lower in 2003.

Girls generally did better on reading tests, averaging nine points higher in fourth-grade, eight points higher in eighth grade. On math tests, there was little difference between sexes.

Over all, the so-called nation's report card, which is issued every two years based on a test given to a sampling of students, showed that most results for New York City were basically flat, with students showing little in gains or losses for reading and math proficiency for fourth graders and eighth graders in 2011 over 2009.

But that is better than the state over all, which saw average math scores for New York fourth graders fall by three points, a measure considered statistically significant, according to results released last month.

The city pointed out that the city has improved significantly since 2003 in both math and reading scores. “On all four tests, low-income students in New York City now outperform their peers across the nation, and that’s a reason to be proud,” Shael Polakow-Suransky, the city's chief academic officer, said in a statement. “The key challenge is to change our instruction and improve our assessments so that students keep moving forward.”

The Daily News reports:

Mayor Bloomberg acknowledged Wednesday that students nationwide aren’t getting the "skills sets that they are going to need to compete" in a global economy.

“I'm pleased that we’ve done better than the rest of the state,” he said. “But I’m sorry for the whole state, us included. We just have to keep working harder.”

The other big news on Wednesday will actually take place on Thursday and Friday, when the city plans to announce which of the 47 schools on its struggling schools list it plans to close.

At a town hall-style meeting of District 2 Wednesday night in Manhattan, Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said the announcement would be made in the next two days. School officials would not even say how many schools would be closed — and principals and other school personnel had not even been told at the time of Mr. Walcott's announcement.

SchoolBook will be covering the announcements over the next two days.

Coming up Thursday:

The first SchoolBook community event will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday on the Pratt Institute campus in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, when Brian Lehrer of WNYC interviews Mr. Walcott, and a panel of educators and parents discuss a burning question now facing many students: "School Choice: Too Much of a Good Thing?" The event is free, but you must have a ticket. You can find more information here and here.

At the same time, Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters; Noah Gotbaum of Community Education Council District 3; and Brian Jones and Julie Cavanagh, teacher advocates, will hold a panel discussion after a free screening of the film “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman.” The event will take place at 6 p.m. at Public School 75 Emily Dickinson, 735 West End Avenue, Manhattan.

At noon, parents and others will hold a news conference and rally to support the renewal of the charter for the Opportunity Charter School which, a news release says, "unlike most charter schools in New York City, is serving special education students." The school is at 240 West 113th Street, between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevards.

At 3:30 p.m., parents and education advocates are expected to gather outside the headquarters of Eva S. Moskowitz's Success Charter Network at 310 Lenox Avenue to protest what they say is "the rapid, unregulated expansion of the politically connected Success Charter Network into public school buildings."

Out in Bayside, Queens, Junior High School 194 William H. Carr is having its seasonal fund-raiser at Barnes & Noble. The school's jazz band will entertain visitors at 4 p.m. and at 6 p.m. "Students will be on hand to gift wrap." More information is available by calling (718) 746-0818, extension 1231. J.H.S. 194, feel free to post photos or video to your school's SchoolBook page. We would love to see it!

At 7 p.m., there will be a screening of the documentary "American Teacher" at Teachers College at Columbia University.

And early alert: Friday is the deadline for submission of middle-school applications. Good luck!