Test Scores in New York City Are Nothing to Write Home About

| Mon Aug. 5, 2013 11:19 AM EDT

New York City is about to introduce new, more difficult school testing based on the Common Core curriculum, and that means average scores are likely to go down. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is getting ready to take some heat:

The mayor’s telling of history is poised to receive one of its most vigorous challenges yet on Wednesday, when New York State is expected to report drastic drops in student performance across the state because of a new set of tougher exams.

In New York City, the proportion of students deemed proficient in math and reading could decrease by as many as 30 percentage points, city officials said, threatening to hand Mr. Bloomberg a public relations problem five months before he is set to leave office.

....As his mayoralty winds down, Mr. Bloomberg has sought to burnish an image as a savior of a school system rife with racial and socioeconomic disparities. But several of the Democratic candidates for mayor have rejected that portrayal, seizing on anger among some parents rankled by what they say is his unilateral approach to governing.

Politics is politics, but the rest of us don't really need to pay any attention to this. Nor do we have to pay attention to New York's own testing, which may or may not be afflicted by dumbed-down tests that are about to get dumbed back up. Nor do we have to guess. Instead, we can just look at TUDA, the subset of the national NAEP test aimed at urban districts. New York City has participated in TUDA for Bloomberg's entire mayoralty, and the basic results are below:

New York City's test scores have increased over the past decade, but they've increased less than in most other big cities (2 points vs. 6 in reading, 6 points vs. 12 in math). On the 4th grade test, New York City has done about the same as other big cities. This isn't a massive failure, but it doesn't look like any kind of outsized success either.

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