Under New Standards, Students See Sharp Decline in Test Scores

Javier Hernandez, New York Times, August 7, 2013

The number of New York students passing reading and math exams dropped drastically this year, education officials reported on Wednesday, unsettling parents, principals and teachers, and posing new challenges to a national effort to toughen academic standards.


The exams were some of the first in the nation to be aligned with a more rigorous set of standards known as Common Core, which emphasize deep analysis and creative problem-solving.


City and state officials spent months trying to steel the public for the grim figures, saying that a decline in scores was inevitable and that it would take several years before students performed at high levels.

Statewide, 31 percent of students passed the exams in reading and math. Last year, 55 percent passed in reading, and 65 percent in math.


Chrystina Russell, principal of Global Technology Preparatory in East Harlem, said she did not know what she would tell parents, who will receive scores for their children in late August. At her middle school, which serves a large population of students from poor families, 6.8 percent of students were rated proficient in English, and 9.5 percent in math. Last year, those numbers were 31 percent and 44 percent, respectively.


After concluding the tests had become too easy, the state made them harder to pass in 2010, resulting in score drops statewide. This year, New York State revamped the tests even more radically.


State education officials said, however, that they were concerned about the persistent gap between the performance of black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian counterparts. Statewide, 16 percent of black students and 18 percent of Hispanic students passed English exams, compared with 40 percent of white students and 50 percent of Asians.


Anticipating the outcry, the city and state arranged for the United States secretary of education, Arne Duncan, to participate in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. In his remarks, Mr. Duncan said the shift to Common Core was a necessary recalibration that would better prepare students for college and the work force.

“Too many school systems lied to children, families and communities,” Mr. Duncan said. “Finally, we are holding ourselves accountable as educators.”

The Common Core standards, which were embraced by the Obama administration as one of the most significant changes to education in modern history, have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

New York was one of the first states to develop tests based on the standards. In April, when the exams were introduced, some teachers and principals said they were too difficult, and there were scattered reports of students with anxiety attacks. Some parents, exhausted by the city’s testing regimen, had their children sit out the exams in protest.


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  • Creepy as crackers!

    Same old broken record. Some things will never change.

    • NeanderthalDNA

      But but but…there’s gotta…be a magical…hidden…mystery formula…some arcane conflaburation of pedogicical ruminations mixed with clever half understood pseudo-scientific sophistry, deep fried in artery clogging ideology…

      That can fix…



      Nope. Die Harrison Bergeron – You blow the ideological curve and the liblefty mind!

      • Erasmus

        If life in Obama’s America weren’t so pathetic, it would really be quite funny.

        Oh, for a satirist of the stature of Swift or Mencken.

    • sbuffalonative

      And they’ll ask for more money to ‘fix the problem’.

      Word is that they’re planning to bus some of these kids to suburban schools.

      After 50 years of failure from the Brown decision, the new school desegregation is underway.

      • Creepy as crackers!

        The “Princeton Plan” is the current communist solution. Combine the black school district with the nearby White school district and run the buses. It has been around for 50 years but they are pushing it again around many parts of this country.

        • Or the state passes a law that lets students in unaccredited school districts transfer to accredited school districts. You can pretty much figure out how that actually plays out in reality.

    • dukem1

      “Finally, we are holding ourselves accountable as educators.”
      OK. Is this it then? When Common Core produces the same results as every other great leap forward can we just get back to teaching the kids with the inclination and ability to learn something?
      Does not “finally” indicate the end of something?
      Huh? Arne? I’m talkin’ to you.

    • Change is impossible because of the existence of the US Department of Education.

      The Department of Edumacation devours about $70 billion a year (or $14 million per employee) and produces only excuses. In adjusted dollars, this is eight times what it cost to build the Panama Canal, five times the annual cost of the 1961-1972 Apollo space program, half the cost of an Amtrack proposal for a dedicated high-speed (220 mph) rail link between Washington DC and Boston, or equal to the entire program cost of the F-22 Raptor. The worthless GOP used to campaign on the department’s elimination, but has given that up.

  • JohnEngelman

    When standards go up, fewer people can meet them. That insight should not be controversial, but it is.

    • Creepy as crackers!

      Of course it is racist.

      • Erasmus

        Rules and standards are racist.

    • willbest

      But all those children are special snowflakes and real smart doncha know. Plus self esteem.

  • Terra Magnum Imperium

    6:00 ABC news also had a story on this and believe it or not showed the White 50 %, Hispanic 19 %, and Black 15 %, pass percent rate. I was amazed how this new test seems to correlate with IQ average rates. 100+ IQ White 50 %, Hispanic 19 %, and Black 15 %.

    • Creepy as crackers!

      Of course the blacks and Hispanics did not do as well because of institutional racism.

      • Spartacus

        I didz dun badz at them tests cuz da pencils waz rayciss .

      • John_HD

        Well, there’s that, but I’m sure White Privilege played an important role as well. Dangit, it’s not working on those pesky Asians, who seem utterly immune to our White Privilege, yet it works so well when applied to Blacks and Browns. Let’s not mince words here, you crackers, it’s Whites fault that Blacks and Browns lag so far behind Whites. There can’t be any other explanation.

    • Sick of it

      Says a lot about liberal whites that their kids could only pass at a 50% rate. I nearly fell asleep on a regular basis in the public schools…

      • NeanderthalDNA

        When ‘they” are

  • Spartacus

    “The English exams showed that minority students struggled: 16 percent of
    black students and 18 percent of Hispanic students met or exceeded the
    proficiency standard.”


    They can’t even speak their own language… And yet we’re all the same ?

    • NeanderthalDNA

      Generally hated the schleppo Latino taking Spanish, especially Puerto Rican. OOOOh I areddy no Spanish dogg! I from Porto Rico dogg. Jus gimme an A fo hittin on da putas in yo clase dogg.

      Many PR’s are just blacks with an ooking latinate mushmouth accent.

  • din_do_nuffins

    I’m offended that some black students are proficient in math and reading.

    Africans should be proficient only in mojo, hoodoo, voodoo, and rap.

    Leave Whiteness to Whites Only, and let Blacks be Blacker.

  • Puggg

    “They were concerned about the achievement gap”

    And there hasn’t been a test invented, properly administered and without cheating, that doesn’t show that same race achievement gap.

    I’m okay with them making the test genuinely more difficult. The problem is that teachers and schools will get the blame, not the low IQ students. You can see hints of teachers and schools getting the official blame right here in this article, with Arne Duncan saying that “Too many school systems lied to children, families and communities…Finally, we are holding ourselves accountable as educators.”

    • David Ashton

      Same in “England”. The teachers are bad, never any students. Sack teachers in the “failing” schools, reduce their total number, worsen the pupil-teacher ratio, carry the process further, close the “bad” schools, amalgamate the “bad schools” with “good schools”, ad infinitum. I taught for a short while in a “sink” school in Norfolk, whose intake came largely from an underclass confined for several generations to a particular locality, the school was closed and some of my colleagues lost county teaching posts completely, yet they all worked harder than any staff in any other school where I have worked in five different towns.

      • sbuffalonative

        I believe most teachers take up the profession because they naively believe they can make a difference. I’m sure they could if the students were white. Trying to educate 99% of Africans students is largely futile. Most teachers come to realize this soon enough but when they speak up about the problem they’re silenced and cowered for being ‘racists’ and told to ‘follow the program’.

        There is no answer until we acknowledge genetic differences.

        • Creepy as crackers!

          I can’t see the establishment acknowledging genetic differences in my lifetime. If they ever do, they will claim that they have located and isolated the gene that causes Whites to be extremely racist.

  • APaige

    I do applaud the attempt at raising standards in education. There does seem to be a lot of tests at a lot of different grade levels. I think computer adaptive tests could be used for placement at all levels in 1-12, without giving out scores. Leave the tests for college and grad school admittance. High school should have two tracts-college and vocational. Train students for either.

  • bigone4u

    I’m concerned about the White-Asian gap. I wonder how many Whites have been forced to turn “wi**er” to survive because they are assigned to a mostly black/Hispanic school. Blacks pull Whites down because of the disruption in the classrooms and outside the classroom they cause. A White female or small White male can be bullied into such fear that she/he is unable to learn. The White-Asian gap seems phony to me. I had lots of Asians in my university classes and they were not superior, as these scores indicate.

    • Sick of it

      I remember one foreign student who covered the same material in his paper that I did yet was given a much higher grade. I know some Asian students who have passed around answer guides as well.

    • Nathanwartooth

      When you look at the Asian average on GRE scores, they aren’t that much different from the White scores.

      GRE scores are the graduate program exams, so only college students take them.

    • China_Rising

      Asians are going to the same schools as Whites. Why would they not be intimated as well in the argument you posited?

      • bigone4u

        I believe that a larger proportion of whites are stuck with going to mostly black schools than are asians. That would explain the difference in the achievement levels. Based on IQ differences between whites and asians I might expect the asians to achieve at a slightly higher level than whites, but the 50 to 40 numbers in the story don’t match the slight IQ difference in favor of asians. Another possibility is that black racism is more often directed toward whites when whites and asians attend mostly black schools.

        • China_Rising

          Do Whites perform at much higher rates (relative to Asians) in schools that are predominantly White?

        • China_Rising

          Consider this. The difference between Hispanics and Whites in this exam result is 22 percentage points. The IQ difference is approx. 11 points (White IQ 100; Hispanic IQ 89).

          The IQ difference between Whites and East Asians is approx. 6 IQ points, or around half that of the White-Hispanic difference. At the same time, Whites scored 10 percentage points lower, or approx. half the difference as the difference between Whites and Hispanics.

          It looks stunningly accurate (although I suspect that Black scores have been artificial inflated, and should be at the 12% level; maybe due to teachers giving them slightly more leniency in their mistakes?).

          • Spartacus

            Keep in mind that, in the US, Arabs, Iranians and many mestizos are called “white” in statistics, and that surely drags results down a little .

          • China_Rising

            The category ‘Non-Hispanic Whites’ includes North Africans and Southwest Asians (ie the Middle East), which is going to drag down the scores (I suspect not too much though, as they are only around 1% of the population).

  • logwarrior

    Common Core is a large power move to shift education to the feds.

    • vladdy1

      According to one who studies the subject, it’s Bill Gates’ way to join the Zuckerbergs, et al in getting to the kids early. Anybody wanna lay odds Billy Ayers helped design it?.

  • [Guest]

    >>>State education officials said, however, that they were concerned about the persistent gap between the performance of black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian counterparts.

    Prediction: In the years ahead, that performance gap will magically close. How? By changing the standards and falsifying the statistics. Nonetheless, the screams of racism will only increase.

    • Reverend Bacon

      Liberals have been trying to close this gap- referred to by some as the “fundamental law of sociology”- for decades. They try and try to put lipstick on the pig, but it doesn’t really work. They can dumb down the tests so that everyone passes, but this would make them useless; apparently, they had exactly that pre-2010. You’d have, to paraphrase an old joke, “liberals that are so dumb that the others notice.”

      In other words, I wouldn’t count on them to have any success.

      Statistics is a science that liberals really don’t understand, despite many of the affirmative action jobs having some sort of watered-down statistics requirement (sociology, education, etc.). In order to find someone capable of “falsifying the statistics” they’d have to find someone with a brain. It’s a bit like the old joke about God threatening to sue Satan, and he replies, “where are you going to find a lawyer up there?”

      Where are the liberals going to find someone with a brain?

      • [Guest]

        Yes, but the enemy is wicked enough to appear to close the gap by deception.

  • Evette Coutier

    let’s talk government statistics. I went to the DMV yesterday. While standing in link for 2 1/2 hours, I looked the DMV website to see how long the posted wait time was. The official government wait time was three and one half minutes. If you believe any government statistics, and statistics from schools or any other institution tied to tax dollars, you are going to find yourself loaded with propaganda.

  • IstvanIN

    Sending blacks and Indios to school is like putting lipstick on a rat.

  • JDInSanDiego

    “there were scattered reports of students with anxiety attacks”.

    Oh no! Stop testing all students. We can’t have scattered students worried about failing a test of basic reading or math skills.

  • MBlanc46

    I sure had some anxiety attacks when I was in school. They didn’t kill me. Without doubt, they helped prepare me for the world. It seems pretty clear to me that American young people need to work harder in school. With proper motivation and discipline, whites and Asians will be all right. Hispanics and blacks will not meet standards, which, ultimately, will be the grounds for re-introducing tracking.

  • Nathanwartooth

    The only way to get rid of the achievement gap is to either make all of the questions impossible or all of the questions so easy that everyone gets them right.

    • SFLBIB

      There is a third way: have the teachers change wrong answers to correct ones.

      • Bon, From the Land of Babble

        ETS (the company that scores the tests) has a program that detects too many erasures and/or changed answers and sends up a red flag. This is how some school districts have been caught cheating.


  • Hunter Morrow

    Anything approximating an IQ test will see miniscule amounts of blacks and hispanics pass.

    The candy-coated stuff that preceded Common Core was just to get people through school.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Common Core, which emphasizes deep analysis and creative problem-solving over short answers and memorization.

    LOL. CC increases illiteracy.

    The last thing Elliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner or Michael Bloomberg want is an educated, literate, informed voter base. Ditto for California’s pols — Brown, Feinstein, Boxer, Harris, et. al — where CC is being heavily pushed.


    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      Must. Add. Graphic.



    “We have lied to you for the last 60 years; but trust us, comrades, this time we’ve got it right.”

    • “As soon as we waste more money.”

      • SFLBIB

        As soon as we waste more money … on $600/hr consultants.

        As a federal supervisor, I had to take a class in employee evaluations under a “new” rating system. The instructor was a consultant. We had gone through two other “new” rating systems before. He opened up by hanging his head low and admitting he had been partially responsible for the failed first one, which was a President Carter brainstorm.

        I say “new” in quotes because the end result was the same as the results of the first two: everybody got a “B” [above average] which qualified them for a token cash bonus.

        As the consultant was confessing his sins to us, I was thinking, “Trust us, comrades, this time we’ve got it right.”


    How can math scores be higher than reading scores, since you have to be able to read the math problems before starting to solve them?

  • Puggg

    For what I can figure, just from a distance, teaching math in a black or Hispanic high school has to be the worst and most thankless job in the history of human commerce and industry. Math at that level is purely abstract and theoretical, and you’ll get the blame when your brick headed students can’t learn it.

  • logwarrior

    My youngest son earned a 27 on his ACT. Throughout his academic career I have had to listen to my wife tell me “he just doesn’t test well”. I told her I was sick of that excuse. He is not as smart as he thinks he is. His older brother scored a 31 and I was proud of that. The irony is, the older brother worked through HS, saved his cash, went to college 1 semester and then quit becase, even though he scored straight A’s, he said it was like going to school with special ed students who were so liberal it made his stomach sick. Oldest son bought a house at 20 and is finishing his course in CNC Machining. Youngest son, who always had a mothers excuse for lackadaisical academic performance, is going to Ohio University. He’ll probably thrive there. I told them both I’d only pay for two years so time will tell. I blame myself because I was working overseas to much duribg my youngest’s high school years.

  • logwarrior

    These exams are so easy that instead of complaining the parents should grab a belt and wgip the kids until they
    get serious about learning. The major problem is that “Education” majors are
    about the dumbest bunch of over educated retards I have ever met.

  • Ed_NY

    As the victim of forced busing, I can definitely empathize with you. I could have wrote the above paragraph as it appears that you and I have had a very similar experience.

  • vladdy1

    I’m a retired teacher and my husband Is a teacher. Through studying common core, he says there will be no more literature taught – for reading, it’ll be non-fiction only. And as material, they plan to use all government reports. Can you imagine you kid coming home with all the latest government stats on “climate change” that they KNOW is true, ‘bos it comes from the government? Or how ’bout sex? Pollution? Crime? Race? (Face-palm-slap.)-

    • Irishgirl

      No literature? That is just sick.

  • vladdy1

    CA banned IQ tests for ’em long ago.

  • vladdy1

    That “bigger numbers” stuff was also a special ed thing. It’s everywhere now? Oh, geez!