Buffalo Public Schools announced today that mathematics test scores in the Queen City continued to rise for the third year in a row. According to the city’s data, 63 percent of students from 3rd through 8th grade scored at or above the New York State standards. Comparatively, only 29 percent of students scored at the same level during the 2005-2006 school year, representing a 117 percent increase in test scores over the last three years.
Third grade students had the highest overall scores this year, with 76 percent meeting or exceeding the state’s standards. Meanwhile, the eighth grade level saw the greatest rise in scores over last year’s mark; this year, 58 percent scored at state standards, compared to 34 percent of eighth graders last year.
Superintendent James A. Williams said he attributes this rise in scores to the city’s commitment to a 3-year academic achievement plan focusing on literacy, as well as improved training for teachers. He also praised the great work ethic of the city’s teachers. “Teachers are the key,” he said. “Once you get the curriculum and structural pieces straightened out, the teachers are very important because they’re the ones working with the children on a daily basis.” Williams said the schools have also attempted to address students who aren’t as far along as they should be through direct instruction, which further contributed to the rise in math test scores.
In May, Buffalo’s public schools also saw an increase in ELA test scores. 54.4 percent of students from grades three to eight were at or above proficiency; just 30.1 percent scored at the same level three years ago.
Williams said he expects this rise in test scores to continue into the future. “We want it to continue, and I don’t see any reason why it should not,” he said. He expressed concern however, about the possible negative effects the current economic crisis may have on the school system. “If we have budget crises over the next couple years and we have to start dismantling the program and laying people off, that’s going to have a major impact on our work,” he said. According to Williams, the District receives 80 percent of its budget from New York state, leaving much room for concern over where budget dollars could be allocated in the future.
Still, Williams is very optimistic for the future and asks for the public’s support for the school system. “In order for the economic indicators to improve and for this community to come back, you have to have a good school system,” he said. “Support our teachers and administrators so we can continue to do better, and support the children.”
For more information on this year’s math scores, please take a look at the city’s data.
This graph, taken from city data, shows the rise in math scores meeting or exceeding state standards for each grade level since the 2005-2006 school year.