Some things never seem to change. And when it comes to the Big Apple, that’s particularly true of the educational system. No matter how much money gets flushed into that rabbit hole, the performance by the students in too many districts remains dismal. According to a new report, there are well over 100 public schools with classes showing a 90 percent failure rate on state exams in both math and English. How bad does a school have to be when you can only get ten percent of the kids to pass the most fundamental subjects? (NY Post)
More than 140 New York City elementary and middle schools had at least one grade where more than 90 percent of kids flunked their state exams last academic year, according to a Post analysis.
A total of 23 schools had at least one entire class where not a single student passed a math or English proficiency test given annually to kids in grades 3 to 8.
“Behind these figures are individuals,” said Yiatin Chu, a member of Manhattan’s Community Education Council 1, a parental advisory panel. “These are families who count on our schools to educate their children. This is depressing and it’s shocking.”
“Depressing and shocking” is the phrase being used. It’s depressing to be sure, but perhaps not so shocking. This is not a new problem for New York City schools.
Here’s something else to ponder. The budget for the NYC Department of Education last year was 24 billion dollars. In 2018, public schools across the metropolitan area spent an average of $17.5K per student. In some of the most economically challenged neighborhoods, the schools spent up to $30K per student. Where does all of that money go?
For just one glaring example, Arthur Tappan middle school in Harlem had 57 eighth grade students take the state’s standardized math test in 2018. Not a single one of them passed.The same zero percent passing rate was recorded for 47 students in fifth grade at Ethan Allen elementary school in Brooklyn. William T. Davis elementary on Staten Island did slightly better. Of the 57 third grade students who took the standard exams, three passed the English test and one passed Math.
When DOE spokeswoman Danielle Filson was asked about the figure of 142 schools with classes showing failure rates of 90% or more, she said this was actually good news. Why? Because in 2017 they had more than 190 schools in that category. (Insert facepalm meme here.)
It’s a fair question to ask if the tests being used are part of the problem. I recently wrote about some nagging issues plaguing standardized testing in this country. But seriously folks… how bad can a test that’s passed by large majorities of students in other districts be? When you have entire classrooms that can’t produce a single student with a passing grade, something else is going very, very wrong.
So what’s happening to cause these dismal results? Are the kids not getting enough support at home? Are the teachers just not good at their jobs? It can’t be entirely blamed on a lack of resources when some of those schools are dumping $30K per kid into the effort. Whatever the problem is, the city needs to find someone to identify the root cause and come up with a functional plan to address it. None of these kids is going to break out of the cycle of poverty and make anything of themselves if they can’t graduate 6th grade.