EdTrust–NY analysis of 2017 state assessment results finds important progress, but data show schools must improve opportunity for students of color regardless of their income level

by | Sep 5, 2017 | Press Release

Analysis also suggests disproportionate number of low-income student “opt-outs” in dozens of low- and average-needs school districts

NEW YORK – New York State’s Spring 2017 achievement results for students in grades 3-8 show continued modest progress statewide, though major gaps remain for students of color, regardless of whether or not they are low-income, according to a new analysis published by The Education Trust–New York.

A review of the 2017 assessment results revealed that although schools perform worse for low-income students of all races and ethnic groups than for their non-low-income peers, schools underserve students of color regardless of their income level. In fact, the gaps in schools’ performance for non-low-income students of color and their non-low-income white peers are larger than those for their low-income counterparts. (Equity Alert, Figure 3).

“Our education system must confront both the systemic inequities and effects related to poverty and the systemic educational inequities and opportunity gaps that impact students of color at all income levels,” said Ian Rosenblum, Executive Director of The Education Trust–New York. “New York’s achievement data demonstrate that they are not one in the same, and both deserve attention from policymakers and educators.”

The EdTrust–NY analysis also found that:

  • While parents who have opted their children out of state assessments tend to be white, affluent and from wealthier school districts, a review of “opt-out” data found dozens of low- and average-needs districts where a disproportionately high percentage of low-income students “refused” to take the test. This is not the case in any urban-suburban high-needs district, New York City district, other Big 5 school district or charter school. While these findings alone cannot be used to conclude whether “institutional exclusion” is occurring in a particular school district, they point to the need to ensure that attention is paid to test participation rates for historically underserved groups of students.
  • Despite glaring opportunity and achievement gaps, many schools and school districts are achieving much better results for historically underserved groups of students. Our analysis found dozens of schools where Black, Latino or low-income students’ proficiency rates exceeded the statewide average for the all-students group. These bright spot schools can be found throughout the state and include both district-run and charter schools.

These findings are critical as the state works to adopt and successfully implement high expectations for all students with the Next Generation Learning Standards, and as it enacts a new accountability system under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The New York State Board of Regents is expected to take up both items at its meeting next week.

The analysis also points to the importance of policies that improve access to strong educators for historically underserved students; address the state’s glaring resource inequities; and improve diversity in order to address school segregation.

Find additional information from the analysis and policy recommendations in our Equity Alert: Student Achievement in New York. For assistance analyzing these gaps at a school, district or county level, contact The Education Trust–New York.