New York Urban League Responds to New Statewide Test Scores: “Assessment Data are an Important Tool to Close Achievement and Opportunity Gaps”

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Opting-out harms efforts to ensure every child achieves regardless of income, race or zip code

Today the New York State Department of Education released its Common Core statewide assessment data for the state’s English Language Arts and Math exams. The results show that students continue to do better than when the measure was first introduced in 2013.

“As a civil rights organization, the New York Urban League has over 95 years of experience fighting for equity for New Yorkers in need and we remain steadfast in the fight to achieve equity and excellence in education for our children,” stated Arva Rice, President and CEO of the New York Urban League. “Historically, the civil rights community has relied upon data from statewide assessments to help us identify and close achievement and opportunity gaps to ensure that every child has access to a high-quality education. Unlike the old state standards and multiple choice tests, the new Common Core aligned assessments measure critical thinking and problem solving—real-world skills that students need to be ready for college and 21st century careers.”

According to the data, for learners in grades 3-8, the ELA standards stayed more or less the same with students scoring in the proficient level increasing by 0.2% percentage points. The percentage of all test takers in grades 3-8 who scored at the proficient level in math increased by seven points in three years from 31.1 in 2013 to 38.1 in 2015. Looking specifically at Black and Hispanic students, their scores remained consistent with earlier year levels, while math performance improved steadily. In comparing 2013 and 2015 math scores, 21.3 percent of Black students scored at the proficient level this year, a six point swing from 2013. The same can also be said of Hispanic students who saw their math scores increase six points in three years to 24.5 percent in 2015, compared to 18.5 percent in 2013.

The New York Urban League believes that the surest way to measure student success is through statewide annual assessments. The data from these assessments informs parents of how well their children are progressing toward college and career readiness and it is a tool that teachers, school districts and states use to provide students with personalized supports and necessary interventions to achieve academic success. Along those lines, efforts to opt students out of taking statewide assessments can harm the ability of parents, teachers and schools to ensure every child achieves regardless of income, race or zip code. By opting out-of-statewide annual assessments, parents are opting out of meaningful efforts to close academic achievement gaps and eliminate disparities where they exist. Without data we lose a key roadmap towards measuring progress for the future of our children.

“The New York Urban League will continue to advocate on behalf of disadvantaged and vulnerable students and their families to ensure that our state is responsive to children and families. We look forward to continuing to work with new Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia to ensure these results are used to inform instruction and target additional resources and supports to children and schools that are struggling so that every New York child graduates from high school, college, and is career-ready,” further stated Arva Rice, President & CEO New York Urban League.

About New York Urban League
The mission of the New York Urban League (NYUL) is to enable African Americans and other underserved ethnic communities to secure a first-class education, economic self-reliance, and equal respect of their civil rights through programs, services, and advocacy in our highly diversified city.

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Brian Franklin
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