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October 23, 2001

Council: Standardized test scores show need for commitment to quality

New York's fourth-grade students performed better on standardized math tests than last year's fourth-graders, but middle-school students' results on English and math tests remained static or declined slightly, results from the 2001 tests showed.

The test results were released Oct. 23 by the state Education Department (SED).

Test results: In elementary schools, 69.1 percent of students scored in levels 3 or 4 on math, the highest of four levels of achievement and the ones that show compliance with state standards. Last year, 65 percent of students reached level 3 or 4, SED's release said.

Earlier this year, SED announced that 60 percent of current fourth-graders had reached level 3 or 4 on standardized English tests, up from 58.7 percent last year.

In middle schools, 39.4 percent of students scored in levels 3 or 4 in math, down from 40.3 percent last year. Results on English exams were unchanged at 44.9 percent.

"This scant improvement on our best gauge of learning shows that New York must redouble its commitment to both standards and achievement on tests based on them," said Marg Mayo, director of training, education, and quality for The Council.

"It makes one wonder where the billion-dollar increases in school aid in recent years have gone, since they have have little or no apparent effect on quality by this, our single best measure of achievement and improvement," she added. "That makes it more clear than ever that schools must focus more on what it takes to improve results."

In announcing the test results, state Commissioner of Education Richard Mills said SED plans to ask middle-school leaders to come together early next year "to discuss ways to improve teaching and learning with experts from across the nation and with leaders from successful middle schools."