Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña were at the Brooklyn Brownstone School (P.S. 628) on MacDonough Street in Bed-Stuy on Thursday for a press conference to announce the latest test results of New York City public schools students which, they touted, showed great improvement over last year’s scores.
The mayor– joined at the conference by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, New York State Assembly Chair of the Education Committee Cathy Nolan, New York City Council Chair Daniel Dromm and Nakia Haskins, principal of Brooklyn Brownstone School — made a point to tie the improved test results with recent citywide efforts to align the curriculum and teaching to the much more rigorous Common Core learning standards.
Results showed New York City students improved across all ethnic groups, with more students meeting the State’s bar for proficiency in both math and English. Also, English Language Learners and special education students showed gains on their test scores.
The mayor chose Bed-Stuy’s Brooklyn Brownstone School as the setting for the press conference because of the school’s marked student achievement over the past year. The number of students that performed at or above proficiency level in math rose from 20.3 in 2013, to 36.8 in 2014; and in English, from 27.5 in 2013, to 44.1 in 2014.
“That is absolutely extraordinary,” said the mayor. “It’s partly great leadership, part parental involvement, but also the work invested in the development of teachers. You can see a difference it makes when our teachers are supported.”
“But this school is a trendsetter for something that is happening citywide. It’s a good day for the whole New York City School system.”
In 2014, 34.2 percent of students met proficiency standards in math, up from 29.6 percent last year, while 28.4 percent of students met the standards in English, up from 26.4 percent last year. Additionally, the number of students scoring at level 1 (the lowest level of proficiency) across New York City has also decreased.
And although the test results showed promised, there was still a long way to go and a lot more action needed, said the mayor, one of the first being, earlier students enrolled through pre-k, which he took the moment to pop his collar for having already set into motion. He also listed more teacher training, increased numbers of afterschool programs, greater parental involvement and a community school model that brings physical, mental healthcare and community services into the school.
He reinforced all of these elements with a need for greater classroom rigor, pointing to the Common Core Standards of Learning. “It is a very challenging world out there. So Let’s be clear: We want to aim high, which is why we do believe in the Common Core Curriculum,” de Blasio said. “So we are making the investment and changes to actually live up to the Common Core standards. And that includes the Common Core at the pre-k level.”
The Department has redoubled its efforts to place an even stronger focus on professional development and instructional practice to improve student outcomes that will lead to greater college and career readiness, said Farina. As a part of their recent contract, teachers will now devote 80 minutes each Monday to professional development in teaching the Common Core.
“Given the fact that we have raised the bar for all of our kids through Common Core, it is important to acknowledge and honor the hard work that our kids, the teachers and parents have made so far,” said Fariña. “But it is only the beginning.”
“I do think this is wonderful news. I do think it could be a lot better, and it will be,” she said. “And I promise you that. I’m excited about the next full year to prove to you that our promises can be met.”