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The math on reading: Gains in the city’s public schools must be bigger and faster


Scoring the city's progress. (Christie M Farriella for New York Daily News)

Upon winning a second term in 2017, Mayor de Blasio said his “greatest passion” would be making the public school system “look entirely different," and reiterated his bold commitment to get all third graders reading at grade level by the year 2026.

On state test results released yesterday, New York City public school kids in grades 3 through 8 ticked up a lackluster 0.7 percentage points in English Language Arts. Now 47.4% of all kids in those grades are proficient, meaning they get a 3 or a 4 on the exam. Gains in math were better: 2.9 points, which means 45.6% now get over the bar.

The first bit of good news is that New York City’s overall grade 3-through-8 reading proficiency rate is now higher than that of the rest of the state. The first bit of bad news is New York City’s reading gains for the year lagged well behind those of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers.

The second bit of good news is that, in a vote of confidence for universal pre-K, the first expanded class of which hit grade 3 last year, kids that age registered the biggest improvements, 2.7 percentage points, and racial achievement gaps shrunk substantially. The second bit of bad news is that even if that growth rate holds steady, it’s nowhere near enough to get de Blasio to his marquee all-third-graders-read-well goal.

Assuming the existing level of improvement continues year-in, year-out, it would take 17 years to reach that promised land.

Meantime, 95.7% of the 2,200 third graders in public charter schools run by Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academies network passed the English Language Arts test, a 3.2-point jump over last year.

Why isn’t de Blasio replicating what they do right?