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Civic Report
No. 13 September 2000


State of the New York City Public Schools 2000

Introduction
Joseph P. Viteritti
Research Professor of Public Administration, New York University

Data Assembly
Kevin Kosar
Ph.D. Candidate, New York University

Introduction

This is the second Report Card on the New York City public schools issued by the Center for Civic Innovation, the first of which was prepared in cooperation with the Public Education Association in 1998. The “just the facts” format is designed to provide a statistical review of performance over a period of ten years, drawing on data made available by the State Education Department and the City Board of Education.

Along with recent changes in the recorded performance of students, there are more notable long term patterns that give us a fuller picture of what is happening. For example, in the short term, high school completion rates are slightly up and the scores on standardized tests have improved. The slight increase in high school completion is overshadowed by a long-term trend in which about half the students complete their studies in four years, and an additional 20% do so by the age 21. With past Regents examinations as a guide, it appears that, so long as these examinations remain rigorous, about 16% of the students in New York City will be able to meet the state’s new and more rigorous requirements for a high school diploma in the coming years.

An increasing number of students have been forsaking a traditional diploma for what has been inappropriately dubbed an “equivalent diploma” or GED. The truth is that those students who do not receive a traditional diploma are less likely to attend and do well in college. While New York will always have a large number of jobs available for unskilled workers, it is becoming increasingly difficult to make a good living in the high tech world of the twenty-first century without the proper credentials. The common path that gave New York its reputation as a gateway to opportunity for many past generations begins with a high school diploma and leads to a college degree. Proportionately less than half as many city students take the SAT exams for college admissions as their peers around the state. Of those who take the test, city students average 40 to 50 points lower in the various subject areas.

The recent improvements in standardized test scores administered by the State Education Department and City Board of Education are somewhat more encouraging. The rise is evident both on state tests given to fourth graders and on city tests given in other grades; and the improvement is evident across most of the city. The larger picture, however, is not so rosy. Both city and state tests indicate that about 60% of the children attending elementary and middle schools in the city are not reading at an acceptable level. Approximately 70% have not attained proficiency in math.

Within this general pattern is a large disparity in academic performance defined by race. By and large the gap between African American and Hispanic students on the low end, and white and Asian students on the upper end is profound, and it is apparent on all measures of academic performance—state tests, city tests, SAT scores and graduation rates.

The gap in performance associated with race is not unique to New York City. For the last thirty years it has been a widely recognized American phenomenon, most dramatically apparent in urban settings. The data in this report show that students who attend urban public schools throughout the state lag behind their counterparts who live in suburban and rural areas. The great danger in highlighting this fact is that it often becomes a basis for using race as an excuse for academic failure, leading to a quiet resignation about the current state of affairs in many inner-city communities. A large proportion of low-performing students get inappropriately placed in special education and bilingual education programs, where academic outcomes are even more discouraging.

When one looks more closely at the available information, something else becomes apparent. New York City has a high percentage of students who are in the lowest quartile of performance. Many of these students attend schools that end up on the state’s list of chronically low performing schools (the SURR list). In fact all but eight of the 105 schools included on this notorious list are in New York City. This list of 97 schools, as extensive as it might be, actually understates the incidence of academic failure at the school level. In fact, nearly 30 percent of the 677 elementary schools in NYC have less than 30 percent of their students reading at an acceptable level; half the elementary schools have less than 40 percent reading at an acceptable level.

The urgency communicated by this information should be clear. While the turnaround of the public school system is likely, even under the most optimistic of circumstances, to be an incremental process, there are some, all too many students who are in need of immediate relief from a culture of despair that captures chronically failing schools in the poorest communities of the city. In such places race and class have not just provided an excuse for academic failure; failure has become an implicit rationale for a continuing state of academic neglect.

At what rate do NYC students finish high school in the traditional four years?

Four-Year Completion Rates, Classes of 1989-1999

*About half of the city’s public school youngsters complete high school in 4 years, a slight increase since 1989.

Source: Division of Assessment and Accountability, The Class of 1999 Four-Year Longitudinal Report and 1998-1999 Event Dropout Rates

At what rate do NYC students complete high school by age 21?

Seven-Year Completion Rates

* Now 69% of youngsters complete high school by age 21, a slight decrease since 1992.

Source: The Division of Assessment and Accountability, The Class of 1996 Final Longitudinal Report, A Three-Year Follow-Up Study, p. 12

What type of diploma do students earn after four years of high school?

Four-Year School Completion Rates of the Classes of 1989 and 1999

*Only 46% of youngsters receive an actual high school diploma in the traditional 4 years.

Source: Calculated from figures on p. 8 of Division of Assessment and Accountability, The Class of 1999 Four-Year Longitudinal Report and 1998-1999 Event Dropout Rates

What type of diploma do students earn after seven years of high school?

Seven-Year Completion Rates of the Classes of 1994, 1995 & 1996

*Only 58% of students ever receive a high school diploma. An additional 11-12% receive a GED.

Source: Calculated from figure on p. 4 of The Division of Assessment and Accountability, The Class of 1996 Final Longitudinal Report, A Three-Year Follow-Up Study, & the 1995 version of the same

How does NYC’s school completion rate compare with the U.S.?

Class of 1996 After 7 Years

Completion Rates After 7 Years by Race (1996)

Source: NYC Annual Reports and Department of Commerce, Educational Attainment in the United States, 1998

Do completion rates in NYC vary by racial/ethnic groups?

Class of 1999

High school completion rates for Blacks and Hispanics are significantly lower than those of Whites and Asians.

Source: Division of Assessment and Accountability, The Class of 1999 Four-Year Longitudinal Report and 1998-1999 Event Dropout Rates

Do completion rates differ for boys and girls?

Class of 1999

Girls are more likely to complete high school than boys.

Source: Division of Assessment and Accountability, The Class of 1999 Four-Year Longitudinal Report and 1998-1999 Event Dropout Rates

What are the SAT achievement levels of NYC high school graduates?

Average SAT Scores of High School Seniors, NYC vs. Rest of the State and U.S.A., 1996-1999

 

NYC

NY State

U.S.

Verbal 96

448

497

505

Verbal 97

448

495

505

Verbal 98

na

495

505

Verbal 99

441

495

505

Math 96

465

499

508

Math 97

462

502

511

Math 98

na

503

512

73% of New York State students took the SAT. Only 35% of NYC students did. Despite this, the rest of the state averages 40 to 50 points higher on each section of the SAT.

Source: NYC Annual Schools Reports and State Education Department, A Report to the Governor and the Legislature on the Educational Status of the State’s Schools, April 1999, p. 52

How will city students fare under the state’s new graduation requirements?

1998 Percentage of Average Enrollment Passing Regents Exams Required for Graduation

Students who entered ninth grade in 1996, and all subsequent classes, will have to pass a set of Regents exams in order to earn a high school degree. To receive a Regents diploma, students must score above 65 on all five examinations. Presently, the State allows those taking the exams who score between 55 and 64 to receive a local diploma. This practice will end with the incoming class of 2004.

*Under current conditions, only 16% of the city’s youngsters will be able to earn a high school diploma under the graduation requirements that arrive in 2004.

*By spring 2003 all students will be required to pass Regents exams in these subjects to receive a high school diploma.

Source: State Education Department, A Report to the Governor and the Legislature on the Educational Status of the State’s Schools, April 1999, p. 89, 178

How well has the city responded to the state’s challenge in the past?

Percent of Graduates Earning Regents Diplomas 1989-1998

*In 1989, the state made it more difficult to earn Regents diplomas. The rest of the state has adapted over time. NYC and other large cities have not.

Source: State Education Department, A Report to the Governor and the Legislature on the Educational Status of the State’s Schools, April 1999, p. 51

How many city graduates need remedial work in college?

*Just 59% of CUNY’s entering baccalaureate students and only 16% of entering associate degree students pass all their basic skills exams.

Source: CUNY Student Data Book, 1998

How well are students reading in elementary and middle school?

Citywide Reading Test Scores, 1994-2000

Year

% at an acceptable level

Test

2000

40.8

 

1999

35.7

New CTB-R Test: Adjusted for rescaling to proficiency levels

1998

43.6

Equated for change from 1991 to 1996 norms

1997

47.3

 

1996

43.7

Adjusted for change in ELL exemption

1995

42.1

Adjusted for change to CTB-Rexp

1994

47.5

 

The city instituted the CTB-R and CTB-M exams in 1998. In 1999 they raised the norms for what constituted acceptable performance levels. This “rescaling” lowered the percentage of students who were deemed to have performed at an acceptable level in 1998.

Sources: State of City Schools ’98 and BOE, A Report on the Results of the CTB-Reading Test (CTB-R) Administration in New York City, Including the Results of the State Grade Four English Language (ELA) Test, Chancellor’s 60-Day Report, A Report on the CTB-Mathematics Test (CTB-M) Administration in New York City, June 2000

How well are students doing in mathematics in elementary and middle school?

Citywide Mathematics Scores 1994-2000

Year

% at an acceptable level

Test

2000

32.9

CTB-M

1999

31.9

New CTB-M Test (Rescaled Score)

1998

63.1

CAT-5

1997

60.4

CAT-5

1996

59.7

CAT-5

1995

53.3

CAT-5

1994

49.9

CAT-5

How Do NYC’s Test Scores Compare with the Rest of New York State?

State Test Scores, the Percentage of Students Scoring at Passing Levels, NYC vs. Rest of NY State in 1999 & 2000

New York State has a new testing program for students in grades four and eight. These exams indicate how well a student is progressing toward the achievement level needed to earn a high school diploma. The results are expressed in terms of levels, with levels three and four being passing, two and one being failing. Level 1 indicates that the child is learning far below the standard. Fourth-grade English scores for 2000 are not yet available for the rest of the state.

Students Scoring at Level 1, the Lowest Level, NYC vs. Rest of NY State in 1999 & 2000

Relative to last year, the city’s fourth graders are doing slightly better in reading. But they score lower than the rest of the state and more score at the lowest level of learning. Fourth-grade math scores and eighth-grade English and math scores for 2000 are not yet available.

Source: 1999 NYC School Report Cards and State Education Department, A Report to the Governor and the Legislature on the Educational Status of the State’s Schools, August 2000

NYC School Reading Scores, Grades 3, 5, 6 & 7, 2000

District

Percentage Scoring at an acceptable level

1

39

2

68

3

47

4

33

5

23

6

36

7

29

8

33

9

24

10

31

11

41

12

26

13

37

14

40

15

46

16

43

17

36

18

51

19

29

20

55

21

53

22

53

23

29

24

50

25

59

26

79

27

39

28

51

29

48

30

49

31

56

32

31

33

24

75

4.8

85

21.5

NYC Total:

42

Source: NYC Annual Reading Reports

How are NYC Elementary Schools Doing Generally?

The Five Best & Worst Elementary Schools in NYC as Measured by the Percentage of Students Scoring at an Acceptable Level

 

 

 

 

Racial/Ethnic Composition

Rank

District

School

% of students scoring at/above acceptabl e level

Black

Hispanic

White

Other

1

2

234

94.9

9.2

6.5

73.0

11.3

2

2

6

92.9

8.1

6.3

76.6

9.0

3

26

98

92.1

21.7

5.6

51.4

21.3

3

26

188

92.1

7.0

6.8

58.0

28.2

5

2

871

92.0

13.3

14.4

60.5

11.9

673

12

195

16.4

23.0

72.1

0.8

4.2

674

9

90

15.9

35.5

62.4

0.3

1.8

675

3

207

15.1

68.9

27.7

0.7

2.7

676

27

105

12.6

83.2

13.3

1.3

2.2

677

3

180

12.5

85.8

13.0

0.9

0.3

Source: NYC Annual School Reading Reports

The Distribution of Schools by Percentage of Students Reading at Acceptable Levels

% of Students scoring at/above acceptable level

Percentage of schools at these levels

0-10

0

11-20

7.5

21-30

21.3

31-40

21.0

41-50

17.0

51-60

12.8

61-70

10.0

71-80

7.3

81-90

2.5

91-100

0.0

*28.8% of elementary schools have 30% or fewer of their students reading at an acceptable level.

*49.8% of elementary schools have 40% or fewer of their children reading at an acceptable level.

*Fewer than 10% of elementary schools have over 71% of their students reading at an acceptable level.

*There are 677 elementary schools in New York City.

Source: NYC Annual Reading Reports

How many students are in Schools Under Registration Review (SURR) schools?

 

NYC Schools

# of Students

Rest of NYS

# of Students

1989-90

40

45,418

4

1,903

1990-91

40

45,418

8

7,245

1991-92

na

na

na

na

1992-93

56

62,353

6

6,038

1993-94

55

61,117

6

6,077

1994-95

72

75,066

7

8,092

1995-96

78

79,027

8

8,714

1996-97

92

88,762

7

9,218

1997-98

94

87,261

4

6,304

1998-99

97

na

8

na

Source: State of City Schools, ’98, & State Education Department, A Report to the Governor and the Legislature on the Educational Status of the State’s Schools, April 1999, p. 20, 177

What is the racial/ethnic composition of SURR schools? (1998)

 

NYC

NYS

Black

41.2

34.5

Hispanic

54.5

20.4

White

1

41.2

Other

3.3

3.8

What percentage of SURR school students pass their Regents exams?

Just 19.8% of elementary and junior high school students in NYC SURR Schools scored at or above acceptable level in reading. (Source: A Report on the results of the CTB-Reading Test (CTB-R) Administration in New York City, Including the Results of the Grade Four English Language Arts (ELA) Test, June 2000)

Source: State Education Department, A Report to the Governor and the State Legislature on the Educational Status of the State’s Schools, April 1999, p. 178

How are Limited English Proficient (LEP) students doing?

The Percentage of Students in LEP

 

1996

1997

1998

1999

Elementary:

20.0

18.3

17.6

16.5

Middle School:

16.2

14.7

15.3

14.6

Percentage of LEP Students Attaining English Proficiency

 

1996

1997

1998

1999

Elementary:

23.1

24.1

24.7

25.5

Middle School:

10.7

14.1

12.6

14.3

Percentage of LEP Students Scoring at an Acceptable Level

 

1996

1997

1998

1999

Elementary:

 

 

 

 

Reading

9.3

12.6

9.8

10.3

Math

23.6

25.6

23.8

12.8

Middle School:

 

 

 

 

Reading

5.7

7.9

5.3

6.9

Math

19.1

22.5

21.6

14.9

Source: NYC Annual School Reports

How are special education students doing?

Percentage of Elementary School Students in:

 

1997

1998

1999

Resource Room:

5.9

5.4

6.0

Self-Contained Classes:

5.8

5.5

5.4

Percentage of Middle School Students in:

 

1997

1998

1999

Resource Room:

6.8

6.8

7.0

Self-Contained Classes:

7.5

7.4

7.4

Percentage of Special Education Students at an acceptable level

 

1998

1999

 

Elementary:

 

 

 

Reading

2.6

4.4

 

Math

6.0

3.7

 

Middle School:

 

 

 

Reading

2.3

3.6

 

Math

5.0

3.1

 

Percentage of the Class of 1999 Special Education Students Who Graduated

District 75:

1.3

 

 

Self-Contained:

8.2

 

 

Percentage of the Class of 1996 Special Education Students Who Graduated After 7 Years

District 75:

12.6

 

 

Self-Contained:

35.9

 

 

Source: Division of Assessment and Accountability, The Class of 1999 Four-Year Longitudinal Report and 1998-1999 Event Dropout Rates, & The Division of Assessment and Accountability, The Class of 1996 Final Longitudinal Report, A Three-Year Follow-Up Study

 


Center for Civic Innovation.

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CR 13 PDF

SUMMARY:
State of the New York City Public Schools 2000 is factual overview of how well the public schools are educating students. While noting impressive acrosss the board gains in test scores, it finds that African-American and Hispanic students lag significantly behind their peers on all measures of academic performance, and warns that the number of students who remain in failing schools is unacceptably high.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Introduction

At what rate do NYC students finish high school in the traditional four years?
Four-Year Completion Rates, Classes of 1989-1999

At what rate do NYC students complete high school by age 21?
Seven-Year Completion Rates

What type of diploma do students earn after four years of high school?
Four-Year School Completion Rates of the Classes of 1989 and 1999

What type of diploma do students earn after seven years of high school?
Seven-Year Completion Rates of the Classes of 1994, 1995 & 1996

How does NYC’s school completion rate compare with the U.S.?
Class of 1996 After 7 Years
Completion Rates After 7 Years by Race (1996)

Do completion rates in NYC vary by racial/ethnic groups?
Class of 1999

Do completion rates differ for boys and girls?
Class of 1999

What are the SAT achievement levels of NYC high school graduates?
Average SAT Scores of High School Seniors, NYC vs. Rest of the State and U.S.A., 1996-1999

How will city students fare under the state’s new graduation requirements?
1998 Percentage of Average Enrollment Passing Regents Exams Required for Graduation

How well has the city responded to the state’s challenge in the past?
Percent of Graduates Earning Regents Diplomas 1989-1998

How many city graduates need remedial work in college?

How well are students reading in elementary and middle school?
Citywide Reading Test Scores, 1994-2000

How well are students doing in mathematics in elementary and middle school?
Citywide Mathematics Scores 1994-2000

How Do NYC’s Test Scores Compare with the Rest of New York State?
State Test Scores, the Percentage of Students Scoring at Passing Levels, NYC vs. Rest of NY State in 1999 & 2000
Students Scoring at Level 1, the Lowest Level, NYC vs. Rest of NY State in 1999 & 2000
NYC School Reading Scores, Grades 3, 5, 6 & 7, 2000

How are NYC Elementary Schools Doing Generally?
The Five Best & Worst Elementary Schools in NYC as Measured by the Percentage of Students Scoring at an Acceptable Level
The Distribution of Schools by Percentage of Students Reading at Acceptable Levels

How many students are in Schools Under Registration Review (SURR) schools?

What is the racial/ethnic composition of SURR schools? (1998)

What percentage of SURR school students pass their Regents exams?

How are Limited English Proficient (LEP) students doing?
The Percentage of Students in LEP
Percentage of LEP Students Attaining English Proficiency
Percentage of LEP Students Scoring at an Acceptable Level

How are special education students doing?
Percentage of Elementary School Students in:
Percentage of Middle School Students in:
Percentage of Special Education Students at an acceptable level
Percentage of the Class of 1999 Special Education Students Who Graduated
Percentage of the Class of 1996 Special Education Students Who Graduated After 7 Years

 


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