Even if New York State education officials had not decided to raise the scores needed to pass the state exams, today would not have been a particularly good news day for the city.
That’s because in addition to having the state call fewer students proficient, both the city and state saw students’ average raw scores stagnate.
For years, state and city students average scores on the math and reading exams have risen. But from 2009 to 2010, the city students’ average reading exam scores held steady at 662. This trend continued on the math test, which also saw no significant increases or decreases in students’ average scale scores.
When the scores were separated out according to students’ ethnicities, they showed the same result: a flat line.
Speaking at Tweed Courthouse today, Mayor Bloomberg said the steady scores were a sign of progress. “The numbers that really matter are the actual scores,” he told reporters, adding that the state had made the tests more difficult this year.
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This is true for the math exam. In an effort to cut down on the math tests’s now-predictable nature, state officials said they broadened the subjects it covered by 30 percent. Officials said they did not do the same for the reading exam because it was already a harder test than the math exam.
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein offered another possible explanation for the scores: the tests were given later in the year, allowing for more material to be covered. In past years, the math and ELA exams were given in January and March.
“There are so many different things that could be going on,” said Harvard University testing expert Daniel Koretz, who has been pushing the state to create harder tests. “The test was at a later day; it had broader content. It could be that the effects of coaching are petering out.”