2005-05-26 / Neighborhood News

P.S. 115 Posts Largest Dist. 18 Gain In City Reading Tests

The mayor (at right) and schools chancellor(left) announced the results of improved citywide test scores at a Bronx elementary school last week.
The mayor (at right) and schools chancellor(left) announced the results of improved citywide test scores at a Bronx elementary school last week. By Neil S. Friedman

New York’s City’s public school students attained the highest-ever one year gains on this year’s statewide 4th Grade English Language Arts (ELA) exams. Last week Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein an-nounced at a Bronx public school that the number of fourth graders who passed posted a 59.5 percent increase, a 10 percent boost over 2004’s — the highest increase since testing started six years ago.

This year in Community School Dis-trict 18, which includes more than a dozen elementary schools in Canarsie and East Flatbush, Public School 115 registered a 19 percent improvement compared to 2004, according to Depart-ment of Education figures. Three district schools showed a decline (P.S. 66, P.S. 268 and P.S. 279), but more than half had more than ten percent improvements over 2004, including: P.S. 135, P.S. 208, P.S. 219, P.S. 233, P.S. 235, P.S. 244, P.S. 276.

Region 6 Superintendent Gloria Buckery told the Courier this week, “The progress we were hoping to see was realized.” She attributed the gain in scores in part to extra support in school, as well as from parents working with their children at home. Buckery also noted that by beginning to help students in the third grade it has obviously made them better prepared when they take the test a year later.

Citywide scores for eighth graders fell nearly three percent, but each of District 18’s six intermediate schools posted a decrease greater than that average. However, Chancellor Klein noted that as in the fourth grade, the percentage of eighth graders achieving at Level 1 declined to an all-time low, indicating improvement among the city’s lowest-performing students.

The record increase includes the achievement of the highest gains in the city by students in the five lowest-performing regions, significant gains by Black and Hispanic 4th graders and impressive results among students who participated in the Summer Suc-cess Academy for 3rd grade students who were in danger of not earning promotion.

“I’m pleased to announce the highest one-year gains and highest percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards since testing began in 1999 ever achieved by city students on the state’s 4th Grade English Language Arts exam,” said the mayor. “Through a strong core curriculum, focused in-tervention programs, and our Summer Success Academy, we’ve helped students who were on course to fail and steered them onto a path to success. I congratulate the principals, teachers, parents and students on this remarkable achievement.”

“The tremendous gains by Black and Hispanic students and by students in the city’s lowest-performing regions demonstrate that the core curriculum, coaches, new interventions, and professional development for teachers really are paying off for those who were previously left behind,” said Chancel-lor Klein. “While we still have a long way to go, it is evident that when principals, teachers, and parents all work together, those children who have not received a quality education in the past can learn effectively and achieve at high standards.”

In order to improve performance in intermediate schools, the Department of Education is creating a new $40 million intervention strategy to supplement the work now being done for high-need schools and at-risk students. This strategy will expand the Saturday Prep Academy into the middle schools to serve at-risk students; provide middle schools with targeted funding for a range of tools to support struggling students – from adolescent literacy intervention programs to new intervention specialists to additional training for teachers to guidance coun-selors and support academic intervention teams in targeted middle schools, modeled after those working successfully in elementary schools.

The mayor noted in his weekly ra-dio address on Sunday: “…we won’t be satisfied until we are closer to 100 percent.”

“When we ended social promotion in the third grade last year, it was a drastic but necessary change. It is necessary that we be honest about who is learning and who isn’t. Today’s results are a lesson that we need to confront our problems, not cover them up or gloss over them. And when we do that, and focus our resources and our energies on our students, great things can happen,” concluded Mayor Bloom-berg.

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