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City schools see a spike in students failing state exams

Public school principals were told this morning how many of their students passed the state’s annual math and English exams and from what we’re hearing, the numbers aren’t pretty.

One principal wrote in to say that the percentage of his students who scored so low they didn’t meet promotion criteria has quadrupled since last year. On the English exam, his percentage of low-scoring students is more than ten times higher. Almost all of his special education students and most of his students who are recent immigrants didn’t pass the exams.

“It’s not like the kids have gotten dumber or the teachers worse, it’s just the tests are being looked at differently,” the principal said.

A Department of Education official confirmed that because the city and state set higher score cutoffs this year, fewer students will meet the standards for promotion to the next grade. As a result, the city expects that more students will be required to attend summer school this year.

“We are committed to raising the bar for our students, so we’re using preliminary results on this year’s tests to set higher promotional cut scores than last year,” said DOE spokesman Matt Mittenthal. “We will guarantee a seat to every student who requires summer school.”

“We’re going to have a huge summer school program now,” the principal said. “No question about that.”

Schools haven’t received their students’ raw scores — they only know whether a student met the promotion criteria or didn’t. See below for the DOE’s cutoff scores.

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