State data shows most New York students struggle with English language arts and math

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After two years of interrupted learning caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, less than half of New York City students are proficient in math and English, according to findings released Monday by the State Department of Education. New York.

This was also the case in 2019, the year before the pandemic.

There was a greater difference in math scores over the two years. But English Language Arts scores improved a bit in assessments conducted last spring.

Statewide, 46.6% of third- through eighth-grade students were proficient in ELA, up from 45.4% in 2019. But in math, only 38.6% of third- through eighth-grade students were competent this year, up from 46.7% in 2019.

In Buffalo Public Schools, math fluency increased from 20.9% in 2019 to 15.3% in 2022. English scores fell less, from 24.7% fluency in 2019 to 24.2 % in 2022.

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Parents worried about a learning gap due to virtual home learning for many children, then faced many restrictions when they returned to the classroom.

After two years of interrupted learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic, less than half of New York students are proficient in math and ELA, according to results released Monday. See how schools in Erie and Niagara counties fared.

“We’re concerned about all of this, but especially math,” said Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Tonja M. Williams.

She pointed out that Buffalo schools’ math proficiency scores were not an anomaly among other urban districts.

“It’s hard to do math on the computer, hard to do math if you live in a household where somebody isn’t extremely proficient in the way math is done these days,” Williams said. .

With little data to compare in the Covid-affected years of 2020 and 2021, Williams said Monday she considers her district’s results “important” as a starting point for future analysis.

“I really feel like it’s a benchmark year,” Williams said. “We’re going up from here. It’s like starting over. We have work to do.”

In proficiency exams, each student is given a grade from one to four, with those who score a three or a four being deemed competent.

State assessments aren’t the most important metric used to determine a child’s progress, said Hamburg Superintendent Michael Cornell, president of the Erie-Niagara Association of School Superintendents.

“It’s a few days out of 180 days,” Cornell said of the tests. “We have much better ways, more sensitive ways to make sense of how a child is doing in school.”

“Multiple measures of student learning, including state assessments, are used at the local level to help develop individualized learning plans, so students have the support they need, said said state Department of Education spokeswoman Emily DeSantis in a statement.

New York State has distributed federal funds to schools and districts to help meet student needs, including lost learning time, due to the pandemic.

The skill and achievement gap narrowed slightly statewide between white students and their black and Native American classmates, while it increased slightly between white and Hispanic students.

English learners are improving in ELA, with 13.4% fluency, up from 8.7% in 2019. But in math, the level fell from 17% in 2019 to 14.8% fluency.

The math achievement gap was especially stark in Buffalo public schools for black and Hispanic students in grades three through eight. Black or African American students in the district fell from 13.1% proficiency in 2019 to 7.5% in 2022, a decline of nearly 6 percentage points. For Hispanic or Latino students, math proficiency was 13.9% in 2019 and 7.5% in 2022. For white students, the proficiency percentage rose from 38.3% to 34%.

This trend has caught the attention of educational justice advocates.

“We remain deeply concerned about the persistent achievement gaps between white students and students of color, many of which have widened during the pandemic,” said Dia Bryant, executive director of The Education Trust – NY.

While academics are important, students have missed more than schoolwork, Cornell said.

“I think the reality is that our children just suffered a loss,” he said. “For two years they lost the ability to play their sport. They lost the ability to access mental health and emotional supports that are more available at school than anywhere else. They lost loved ones and often lost a sense of security.”

New York State math assessments reflect the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. The NAEP tests a sample of fourth and eighth graders in math and reading. Scores fell measurably in math, while no state showed noticeable improvement in reading, according to The New York Times.

State assessments were not administered in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2021, state education commissioner Betty A. Rosa said the number of students taking the tests, four out of 10 children, was so low that the results should not be compared to previous years. .

This year, the state Department of Education said in a press release that “due to the ongoing impacts of Covid-19, it may not be appropriate to compare assessment results standardized NYS 2021-22 with results from previous years”. No one from the education department, including Rosa, was available for an interview on the results, according to the department.

“Do we have a lot of work to do? The answer is yes. And it would be nice if it was just math. But the reality is that we have a lot of work to do to connect children to each other and for their school and their community,” Cornell said.

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