Call for Urgent Action: New York State assessment report analysis reveals proficiency crisis for students

May 15, 2024 | Press Release

NEW YORK – A recent analysis conducted by The Education Trust–New York into the 2022-23 New York State Education Department (NYSED) assessments has revealed alarming disparities in student outcomes, particularly among students of color and from low-income backgrounds. These findings underscore the urgent need for comprehensive action to address inequities in education and support student success statewide.

Despite increased scrutiny of state assessments across the country, these exams remain essential tools for measuring students’ academic readiness and identifying areas where additional support is needed. In fact, the analysis of NYSED assessments for the 2022-23 academic year paints a concerning picture of student proficiency levels, particularly in third grade English language arts (ELA) and eighth grade math, two critical indicators of student success.

Key findings from the analysis include:

  • Third grade reading proficiency for all students stands at a mere 45%, while overall eighth grade math proficiency is even lower at 42%.
  • Proficiency rates for Black, Latinx, and students from low-income backgrounds are significantly lower for third grade ELA and eighth grade math, highlighting persistent inequities in education and the impact of the pandemic on the foundational skills of students.
  • Significant gaps in proficiency rates between student subgroups, including a 16% gap in third grade ELA between White students and Black and Latinx students and a 19% gap in eighth grade math between students from low-income backgrounds and their more affluent peers.
  • These outcomes are especially alarming as NYSED lowers “cut scores,” the score needed to demonstrate proficiency on the state assessments. Lowering scores masks actual student performance and hinders a clear picture of student performance.

The analysis also found the delayed release of NYSED’s 2022-23 assessment data, coming six months after testing concluded, compounds the challenges faced by educators, parents, and students in understanding performance trends and addressing areas for improvement. This lack of transparency undermines the value of assessments as tools for informing instructional decisions and targeting resources effectively.

“The stark realities revealed in the 2022-23 NYSED assessments show the alarming disparities in student outcomes, particularly for students of color and those from low-income backgrounds, and underscore the urgent need for comprehensive action,” said Arlen Benjamin-Gomez, executive director of The Education Trust–New York. “These outcomes are not the fault of students or their families; they are the result of inadequate systems and school structures that have failed them. This new assessment data should serve as a wakeup call for state and district leaders to provide all students with the foundational math and literacy skills needed for success.”

The Education Trust–New York calls for immediate action to support student success and improve the state assessment process.

Recommendations outlined in the report include:

  • Ensuring evidence-based early literacy instruction for all students.
  • Providing high-quality math instruction to increase eighth-grade algebra enrollment.
  • Expanding tutoring and expanded learning opportunities for students in need of extra support.
  • Significantly expediting the data release process so that all scores are made public as soon as possible and are accompanied by guidance from state leaders to inform the public of statewide data trends.
  • Creating a state-level task force to ensure greater inclusivity and additional funding to develop inclusive assessment materials that address bias.

As we continue to recover and move on from COVID-19, we must not ignore the impact the pandemic had on our students. These assessment results serve as a critical wake-up call for state and district leaders to increase their efforts to address foundational literacy and math skills for our students.

To learn more and access the full report, click HERE.

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About The Education Trust–New York:

The Education Trust–New York works to eliminate the gaps in equity and opportunity achievement that hold back too many students from reaching their full potential, especially those who are from low-income backgrounds or students of color, in order to enable all students in New York State to achieve at high levels — from early childhood through college. Learn more at