Skip to comments.Lots of Children Left Behind: Nearly a decade after Mayor Bloomberg’s school reforms, New York...
Posted on 12/09/2011 10:22:31 PM PST by neverdem
Nearly a decade after Mayor Bloombergs school reforms, New York City students show little progress.
The only reasonable conclusion to draw from this weeks report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is that reading and math achievement by New York Citys students is dismal and has remained so for almost a decade. Known as the Nations Report Card, the federal test compares progress by fourth- and eighth-graders in 21 large cities. A mere 24 percent of all New York City eighth-graders read at the NAEP proficiency level (and only 12 percent of black and Hispanic students). In eighth-grade math, an identical 24 percent of city students scored at or above NAEP proficiency. That amounts to a modest 6 percentile-point increase from the 2003 NAEP tests; the average eighth-grade math improvement of all U.S. big-city school districts is 12 points during that period.
The disappointing NAEP performance of Gothams eighth-graders is particularly significant for our citys future. We might usefully think of this cohort of about 80,000 students as Bloombergs children. Thats because they started out in kindergarten in September 2002, just two months after the state legislature voted to give Mayor Bloomberg total control of the schools. The mayor promised that new accountability measures would reform the previously dysfunctional and sclerotic school system and help newly entering students to improve their academic performance and achieve higher graduation rates. Bloomberg also assured the citys taxpayers that he could produce dramatic improvements without a significant increase in school spending. In a January 2003 speech outlining his reform program, he noted that the city already spends $12 billion annually, which ought to be enough to give our children the education they deserve.
The citys education budget this year is close to $24 billion, and Bloombergs children are now in their first year in high school. In three years, most of them will be expected to begin the college application process. Its been well established, however, that reading comprehension is key to advancement in all other academic skills. Thus its likely that only the 24 percent of the cohort that can read at NAEPs eight-grade proficiency level will be ready to do serious college-level work.
Up to now, the city has avoided dealing with this disturbing reality by ginning up its high school graduation numbers through dumbed-down Regents exams and credit-recovery abuses, in which students who fail courses required for graduation earn passing grades after attending a few additional Saturday sessions or turning in extra homework assignments. Thus, the city has been able to boast of an astonishing rise in four-year graduation rates, which currently stand at 65 percent. But the State Education Department poured cold water on the graduation-rate claim with a recent study that showed that only 22 percent of students receiving diplomas were college ready. Its no coincidence that the states college-ready figure is nearly identical to the citys eighth-grade proficiency rates in math and reading.
DOE officials are responding to poor NAEP results the same way they did to last years revelations that the citys spectacular increases on state reading and math tests were due almost entirely to the deliberate lowering of pass rates. The DOE then explained that despite plummeting test scores on the revamped 2010 tests, New York still performed better than all other urban districts in the state. The DOE continues to use this were better than Buffalo defense, inadequate as it is. Our students have made impressive gains [on the NAEP] since 2003—especially compared to their peers across New York State, said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. DOE officials also promise that NAEP test scores will improve once the schools have aligned their curricula and teaching with the Common Core Standards—a requirement the city accepted in order to qualify for Race to the Top funds from the Obama administration.
But the solution to the citys education problems wont come from Washington, D.C. In fact, the federally imposed common standards will probably become one more failed reform. The real answer, at least for the citys awful reading scores, is more likely to be found in a group of ten elementary schools participating in a pilot reading program pioneered by the brilliant scholar and cognitive scientist E. D. Hirsch. Over a three-year period, students in the schools using Hirschs Core Knowledge reading curriculum outperformed their peers from a control group of ten other schools by a huge margin on K2 reading tests.
Unfortunately, though the DOE conducted the Core Knowledge reading study, it has made no move so far to bring the program to other schools. Its well past time to do so.
Sol Stern is a contributing editor of City Journal, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and the author of Breaking Free: Public School Lessons and the Imperative of School Choice.
There are about 1.1 million students and a budget of 24 billion. That is about $22,000 per student per year. Half a million dollars for a class of 24 student, and they still can’t teach them to read.
Single payer education will NEVER work.
Of course single payer education can’t work, but many here somehow think that their government schools are “different”, tht water runs uphill, that the law of gravity is optional....
You can't teach kids who don't want to learn. As long as there are government jobs to hand out, though, no one will talk about that. The urban black and Hispanic cultures are destroying their children and I don't think there's anything we can do about it.
Asian and white children somehow manage to learn reading and math in those same schools. No one wants to talk about that, either.
Break up families, liberalize and unionize “teachers” and supply them with an agenda to ensure failure and government dependence, and this is what you get. No need to work for a living = no need to apply oneself with useful academics.
“Asian and white children somehow manage to learn reading and math in those same schools. No one wants to talk about that, either.”
No, they don’t. They learn to read IN SPITE of those schools. Asians take their kids to after school learning centers and whites (with successful kids) either tutor them, teach them themselves, or also use learning centers. The ones that are left at the mercy of the schools themselves, are, of course, Blacks and Hispanics.
Yes, in most cases, kids will EVENTUALLY learn to read, even at public schools, but YEARS LATE and never good at it, as they spend K through 3rd grade learning “Sight Words”, rather than phonics...and any normal (i.e., not retarded) kid can become a good reader in Kindergarten (at the latest), if simply taught phonics exclusively at that age.
The liberals know that they can ONLY keep their hold on power through uneducated people...and they FULLY take advantage of their control of public schools to achieve that end.
Reading is the key to all subjects. If one can read, one can be relatively successful in history, science, and math. Of course math and science take some personal interest to truly grasp, but being able to read makes those subjects possible to pass at the middle and high school levels. The reading program taught in the system in which I teach is called SFA (ironically that stands for Success for All) and it is a word memorization program. There is much success at the elementary level but once students stop memorizing new words at the middle and high school levels, they become functioning illiterates. The reason that Asian and white students are doing well is because they have parents at home who will read with them and teach them how to sound out words. Phonics is the key to reading, and most public schools teach word memorization. It is criminal.
“The reading program taught in the system in which I teach is called SFA (ironically that stands for Success for All) and it is a word memorization program.”
Unreal. When I read stuff like this it simply convinces me that this is all INTENTIONAL. There is simply no way that sight-reading can work with the English language. If a couple of bloggers can figure that out, one MUST assume that the educational establishment knows exactly the same thing.
The KCMOPSD has been nothing more than a way of handing out goodies to political cronies and creating little political fiefdoms. I guess since kids don't vote, while teachers and other union members do, there's no reason for the school district to give a damn about them. Which is also why the population of the school district has plummeted as well.
You’re right; I heard a relative once say that the public schools in her town were successfull, unlike in most places. And she truly believed what she said.
I have found that many of the American people don’t understand the difference in phonics and “sight” reading. They just think all of the “little people” have limited vocabularies.
“I have found that many of the American people dont understand the difference in phonics and sight reading. They just think all of the little people have limited vocabularies.”
Unreal, but true.
No they don't. My public school district is white upper middle class seacoast New Hampshire. Less than 50% test proficient in math and reading.
If parents had to write a check for tuition every month, quarter or year, their children would find some motivation.
>>any normal (i.e., not retarded) kid can become a good reader in Kindergarten (at the latest), if simply taught phonics exclusively at that age.
Spot on. I read this passage from the article:
“The real answer, at least for the citys awful reading scores, is more likely to be found in a group of ten elementary schools participating in a pilot reading program pioneered by the brilliant scholar and cognitive scientist E. D. Hirsch.”
and my immediate reaction was “I bet he’s teaching camouflaged phonics.”
Click through to the further article. He’s teaching phonetics and cultural depth. Those 10 elementary schools that are doing so well with it are certain to have plenty of minorities in their demographics.
So without reading it, teaching “cultural depth” (whatever that is) gives him the cover he needs to teach phonics.
I’ll go look at it in a minute or four.
my kid’s first grade teacher would pull the shade on the door and then quietly teach phonics while the record player loudly played marching songs.
we all requested her for the following sibs.