Mayor Bill de Blasio touted New York City students’ outperformance of the rest of the state in English exams Wednesday, but was hesitant to use this year’s scores as a benchmark.
“This is a new interpretation of test scores this year by the state of New York. It is hard to compare against last year directly because there has been a change in the approach to testing,” de Blasio said at Morris Heights School in the Bronx. “This now gives us a baseline to work from.”
This year’s exams were new-and-improved: testing was shortened from three days to two, and was untimed. The new exams also focused more heavily on critical thinking.
City students outperformed the rest of the state in English proficiency at 46.7 percent, but still lagged behind in math exams by 1.8 percentage points in math exams.
De Blasio said it would take two more years to see if results hold up from this year.
“I do expect progress, and I’ll say it now to get it out of the way. If we don’t make progress after those inputs, somethings wrong and we have to make further changes,” he said.
Chancellor Richard A. Carranza, whom de Blasio has been tasked with shifting teachers’ focus away from exams, believes they are now teaching the correct curriculum.
“We don’t believe we made it easier. What we believe is that this year’s test is much more closely aligned to the standards than last year’s test, so it’s a much more accurate reflection of whether or not students can master the standards,” he said.
De Blasio said the all-time high graduation rate of 74.3 percent and lowest dropout rate of 7.8 percent from last year’s graduating class are better indicators of the progress in schools.
UTF President Michael Mulgrew backed the mayor and chancellor’s stance that a test score should never be used as a single standard of success.
“The days of using a test as a scarlet letter in New York City are over at this point in time,” he said.