By Jill Colvin
MANHATTAN — City math and reading proficiency scores plummeted this year as new, tougher testing standards were put into effect, state numbers released Wednesday show.
Only 42 percent of students passed their English exams this year, versus 69 percent in 2010 — a 27 point decline.
Proficiency in math for 3rd through 8th graders has dropped a whopping 28 points, with only 54 percent of students graded proficient, versus 82 percent last year.
The falling test scores are a blow to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who made improved city test scores a centerpiece of his 2009 reelection campaign.
The Department of Education blamed the drops on new testing standards, which raise the bar on what qualifies as "proficiency." This year's state tests made the questions more difficult and raised the number of right answers required to pass the tests.
Last week, the DOE acknowledged that the standardized exams had become "very lenient," leaving many students who were supposedly proficient unprepared for college-level work.
The scores also revealed that a large racial gap remains, with Asian and white students significantly outperforming Hispanics and blacks in both subjects, and Asians outpacing all others in math.
"While it's not as good as we would like to have it, it's certainly not bad," Bloomberg said of the scores at a press conference Wednesday.
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said that he has long supported higher proficiency standards, and pointed to the fact that city students "have far outpaced students in the rest of the state."
Still, he said, “Today’s lesson is that we have a long way to go."
The latest results come a day after New York was named as one of the 19 finalists for the "Race to the Top" competition for federal education funds.