More eighth-graders in local schools met or exceeded state standards on English and math tests this year than eighth-graders did last year, test results show.
The improvement was especially noticeable on the English assessments. The percentage of eighth-graders who met or exceeded state standards was up in 10 of 12 local school districts on the English tests.
On math assessments, the percentage of eighth-graders who met or exceeded state standards was up in six of 12 local districts.
In the Gloversville Enlarged School District, 37.2 percent of eighth-graders met or exceeded state standards on English assessments, which students took in April. In 2011, 33.3 percent of Gloversville eighth-graders met or exceeded state standards on the English tests.
On state math tests, which students also took in April, 46 percent of Gloversville eighth-graders met or exceeded state standards this year. Last year, the percentage was 41.2 percent.
In the Greater Johnstown School District, 50.3 percent of eighth-graders met or exceeded state standards on English tests this year. Last year, the percentage was 36.6 percent.
Hitting the mark
The following information shows the percentage of eighth-grade students in local school districts who met or exceeded the state standards on English language arts tests in 2012 and 2011.
Gloversville - 37.2 percent met or exceeded standards in 2012; 33.3 percent met or exceeded standards in 2011.
Johnstown - 50.3 percent in 2012; 36.6 percent in 2011.
Broadalbin-Perth - 53.8 percent; 51.1 percent.
Mayfield - 45.2 ; 40.3.
Northville - 30; 27.1.
- Oppenheim-Ephratah - 34.7; 26.7.
Wheelerville - 23.5; 30.8.
- Fonda-Fultonville - 62.2; 47.6.
Canajoharie - 55.5; 51.3.
Fort Plain - 63.1; 57.9.
St. Johnsville - 48.6; 38.7.
Wells - 33.3; 36.4.
On math tests, 51.4 percent of Johnstown eighth-graders met or exceeded state standards this year. Last year, the percentage was 47.7 percent.
In the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District, 53.8 percent of eighth-graders met or exceeded state standards on the English assessments. Last year, the percentage was 51.1 percent.
On math tests, 57.1 percent of Broadalbin-Perth eighth-graders met or exceeded state standards this year. Last year, the percentage was 51.8 percent.
Throughout 12 local districts, the percentage of eighth-graders meeting or exceeding state standards on English tests this year was down only in the Wheelerville and Wells school districts.
The percentage of eighth-graders meeting or exceeding state standards on math tests this year was down in the Mayfield, Wheelerville, Canajoharie, Fort Plain, St. Johnsville and Wells districts.
Among local schools, the Johnstown and Fonda-Fultonville school districts showed the biggest jump in percentages of eighth-graders meeting or exceeding state standards on the English tests. In Fonda-Fultonville, 62.2 percent of eighth-graders met or exceeded the standards this year, compared with 47.6 percent last year.
The Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District showed the biggest increase in the percentage of eighth-graders meeting or exceeding state standards on math tests. The results show 34.8 percent of eighth-graders in that district met or exceeded the standards this year, compared with 13.3 percent last year.
Gloversville Interim Superintendent Cliff Moses said the district has tried to help students improve on state test scores by providing after-school programs.
"If I were to attribute it to anything, we do have some tutoring programs. We have been focusing on reading and writing in our ELA classes. I think the combination of those two things were probably the biggest," he said.
Johnstown Superintendent Robert DeLilli said a lot of variables affect the performance on the tests.
"Who are the students taking the test is number 1. What is on the test is next? And teachers identify who are the students coming in that need intensive help. You have to adjust and approach each group of students. You have to reach a broader group of students," DeLilli said.
"Each year is going to be different," he said. "You have different students in front of you and different tests. You're really comparing two different subsets. Based on data, teachers are using a prescriptive approach to identify the students in need. You're identifying the students who need help in a certain area."
Northville Superintendent Kathy Dougherty said her district's efforts to improve scores are "a work in progress."
"You have to diagnose where your problem is, and you have to prescribe the correct measures that need to be put into place," she said. "Then you have to assess if those corrections are being used properly. It's a very circular and fluid process. You're never done. You're never finished."
Fonda-Fultonville Interim Superintendent Patrick Michel, who also is the superintendent of the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services, explained the improvements among many schools in the area are impressive.
"They made the test harder last year, and [local students] still scored significantly higher," Michel said. "I think they did an outstanding job. [Local schools] changed some curricular focuses both on literacy and non-fiction. They really beared down on their writing skills and reading skills. Obviously, it worked."
Michel said he's worried about keeping the test scores up, however, because of recent budget cuts.
"We have worked very hard with all the schools in the area," he said. "The only fear I have, which is sincere to all the schools in the area, because of cuts, the ability to keep these scores up is going to be undermined."
The state measured student performance on English language arts and math tests in grades three through eight. The state Education Department released the results Tuesday.
Statewide, the average scale scores on this year's exams in both English and math are slightly higher than last year in most grades, and there is a small increase in the percentage of students in grades three through eight across the state who met or exceeded the proficiency standard on both exams.
"There is some positive momentum in these numbers," Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said in a news release. "But too many of our students, especially students of color, English language learners and special-education students, are currently not on a course for college and career readiness. That's why we are continuing to press forward with critical reforms to ensure all of our kids are ready for college and careers."
State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said in the release, "These results are a small, positive sign of growth, but not enough of our students are climbing as steadily as they should be."
According to statewide data, 55.1 percent of students in grades three through eight met or exceeded the English proficiency standard, an increase from 52.8 percent last year, while 64.8 percent met or exceeded the standard in math, up from 63.3 percent last year.
Gains made by New York City students outpaced those in the state overall. The percentage of students in the state's largest district who met English and math expectations increased by 3 points and 2.7 points, respectively, over the previous year. That compared with gains of 2.3 percent and 1.5 percent statewide.
Students in the state's roughly 700 districts sat through a total of six days of testing in April as a way to measure academic achievement, as well as teacher and principal effectiveness.
The scores show that black and Hispanic children, despite gains in scoring, continue to lag behind their white peers. About 37 percent of black students met or exceeded English proficiency standards, compared with 66.4 percent of white students. In math, 46 percent of black students scored at or above proficient, compared with 74 percent of white students. Of Hispanic students, 40 percent were proficient in English and 53 percent met or exceeded the standard in math.
Among the Big 5 districts, the percentage of students meeting expectations in both subjects was up in Yonkers, Syracuse and New York City, though all fell well short of statewide averages. Buffalo students made small strides in English but lost ground in math.
Rochester, meanwhile, dropped across the board. Just under 21 percent of students met or exceeded the English standard, down from 24.4 percent last year, and 27.3 percent met math standards, down from 29.4 percent.
"The progress we see this year doesn't give us a reason to rest, it gives us a reason to strive for even greater gains," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in New York City, where 60 percent of students met or exceeded math standards and 47 percent met the English benchmarks.
This past round of testing was the last based on 2005 learning standards. Future tests will embody the new, more uniform "common core" standards and rely less on multiple choice and more on short and constructed response questions that require higher-order thinking.
Commissioner King said the 2013 version of the tests would provide better evidence of progress toward success after graduation.
"We're building a ladder, grade by grade, to college and career readiness," King said in the news release. "These results are a small, positive sign of growth, but not enough of our students are climbing as steadily as they should be. Next school year, we start to implement reforms to make that ladder strong enough to support all our students as they climb toward college and career readiness."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.