Brennan Says Disparity between National and State Reading Test Results is “Alarming”

Stagnation in 8th grade reading results over past six years in New York City also major concern
May 20, 2010
State Assemblymember Jim Brennan (D-Brooklyn) said today that the National Assessment of Educational Progress Trial Urban District Assessment (NAEP TUDA) Reading 2009 results indicate an “alarming disparity” between the performance of New York City students on the New York State exams and the NAEP TUDA.

The New York State exams place the percentage of students at or above proficient in New York City at 68.9% in 4th grade reading and 57% in 8th grade reading in 2009. The NAEP indicates that the percentages of students at this level is dramatically smaller, with 29% at or above proficient in 4th grade reading and 22% at or above proficient in 8th grade reading. The disparities between the national and state results are 40 points in the 4th grade and 35 points in the 8th grade.

A similar disparity exists between the New York State and the NAEP TUDA results in 4th and 8th grade math. The New York State exams place the percentage of students at or above proficient in New York City at 85% in 4th grade math and 71% in 8th grade math in 2009. The NAEP indicates that the percentages of students at this level is significantly smaller, with 35% at or above proficient in 4th grade math and 26% at or above proficient in 8th grade math.

The 2009 NAEP TUDA reading report further indicates that while modest gains were made in 4th grade reading, students in the 8th grade showed no improvement from 2003-2009. In 2003 in New York City the average score was 252. After a period of decline from 2003-2007, in 2009 New York City increased three points to return to the 2003 score of 252.

From 2003-2009, the percentage of students at or above basic level in 8th grade reading was 62%. In 2009 the percentage of students at this level was 63%, an increase of one percentage point over six years. In 2003 the percentage of students at or above proficient was 22%. In 2009 the percentage of students at this level remained at 22%.

The 2009 reading results follow a similar pattern identified in Brennan’s most recent report “New York City and Other Large Cities on National Math Tests: A Comparison 2003-2009.” While New York City students are making progress in the 4th grade, they are showing only minimal gains in the 8th grade.

“These results are alarming for several reasons. The 8th grade is a critical indicator for high school graduation and college preparation. Very weak gains in math and absolutely no improvement in reading indicate that New York City students are falling behind their peers across the country. Second, the 40 and 50 point disparities between NAEP TUDA exam and New York State tests point to inadequacy in the state tests and a need for education officials to rethink New York State’s exams,” Brennan noted.