Because our six weren’t enough, here are the lessons Bloomberg outlined this morning during his pre-taped weekly radio address:
We live in an information age and work in an increasingly information-based economy. Skills that once enabled someone to earn a good living just won’t do the same trick anymore. That’s why, for more than 11 years, we’ve been setting the bar ever-higher for our public school teachers and students – and why we’ve also been working closely with State education officials who have the same goal.
Last week, we got the results from the new and far more demanding math and English tests students in the 3rd through 8th grades took last spring here and all across the state – tests based on the new, widely adopted Common Core standards that we urged State officials to implement. And you can draw four major conclusions about the results.
First, there’s really no point in comparing these new results with scores that our students got on State tests in past years.That’s because this year we held students to a much tougher standard: Not whether they were on course simply to graduate from high school, but whether they’re learning the skills needed for success in college. That meant that the new math problems were more complex. The new English questions used a bigger vocabulary and demanded more writing. And in every case, students were required to think far more critically and analytically than ever before.
The second big point to keep in mind, however, is that it is valid to judge the scores that New York City students got against those earned by students in other big cities across the state. After all, they all took the same tests at the same time, and they also share roughly similar social and economic backgrounds. And looked at that way, there really is no comparison. Our students vastly out-performed students in those other cities – evidence that all the effort that teachers and principals have put into preparing the students in our schools to do more rigorous work has really paid off.
That’s also clear from the third big takeaway from these new test scores. Our students continue to do something many observers thought impossible: Despite the social and economic barriers so many of them face, they’re closing the achievement gap with students throughout the state, including those in affluent suburban school districts. Our students have virtually eliminated that gap in math proficiency, and over the past seven years they’ve cut the gap in English competence by more than half.
And fourth, while the scores left plenty of room for improvement, there’s also every reason to believe that our students will – just as they have in the past – rise to this new challenge, and do better on the new State tests in the future. To help them, we’re investing added resources where they’re needed and doing extra teacher training, too.
Of course, the adults in their homes have a big part to play in helping students do better, too. So to find out more about the new tests and what they mean, go to the Department of Education’s web page at nyc.gov. And circle your calendars for the week of August 26th; that’s when parents and guardians can go on-line to learn how their youngsters scored on these tests. That’s the next big step to helping them all succeed.