Hundreds of New Rochelle Middle Students Disappear: 2017 Common Core Test Results Show Widening Achievement Gap, Racial/Ethnic Gap

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — The Common Core test results were released last month to little fanfare and no official statement by the City School District of New Rochelle. Looking at the scores, it is no wonder the administration and school board pulled the proverbial blanket over their heads hoping the scores would go away.

What the scores show is, that despite years of rhetoric about closing the achievement gap between students at Albert Leonard Middle School and Isaac E. Young Middle School and addressing equity issues between White, Black and Hispanic students, those gaps are wider than ever.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with data obtained from the City School District of New Rochelle under a Freedom of Information request (see subsequent article)

Data obtained from the District states Albert Leonard has about 1,218 students and Isaac Young has about 1,225 (the data is not precise because some data was redacted by the District). All of the students in Middle School are supposed to take the ELA and Math Exams. The total test takers for 8th grade math may be skewed because students, typically the highest performing students, have the option to take the Regents Math exam in 8th grade and those students qualifying for this option are disproportionally Albert Leonard students.

The first thing that stands out from a side-by-side analysis for the ELA/Math data is the number of students NOT taking the test.

At Albert Leonard just 536 out of roughly 1,218 eligible students took the 2017 ELA Exam and even less, just 446 students took the 2017 Math Exam.

At Isaac Young just 555 of 1,225 eligible students took the 2017 ELA Exam.

The most shocking number is 178, the number of Isaac Young students taking the 2017 Math Exam. That is not only less 15% of the 1,225 eligible students taking the exam but represents a drop of 377 students from the 555 taking the 2017 ELA Exam just a few weeks before.

This raises a major question: how did almost 400 students “disappear” between the administration of the 2017 ELA Exam given between March 28th and March 30th and the 2017 Math Exam on May 2nd  to May 4th?

The same “disappearing students” show up on a year-to-year basis at Isaac Young, as well.

In 2016, 708 students took the ELA Exam which dropped to 555 in 2017. Also, the number of students taking the 2016 ELA Exam dropped from 708 students to just 211 students taking the 2016 ELA Math Exam, a gap of just under 500 students out of about 800 eligible students.

A breakdown of the data on racial/ethnic classification shows that white students abandoned the test almost entirely, about two-third of black students did not take the test and about three-quarters of the hispanic students skipped the test. Given that hispanic students are the largest racial/ethnic group at Isaac Young, this represents a staggering drop of just under 200 students between March and May.

  • 2017 ELA Exam IEYMS: White Students 62
  • 2017 ELA Math IEYMS: White Students 5

Differential: -57

  • 2017 ELA Exam IEYMS: Black Students 131
  • 2017 ELA Math IEYMS: Black Students 43

Differential: -88

  • 2017 ELA Exam IEYMS: Hispanic Students 317
  • 2017 ELA Math IEYMS: Hispanic Students 118

Differential: -199

Among this students who did take the exam, the gap in proficiency (those achieving a Level 3 or Level 4) between the two schools is large:

  • ALMS ELA 2017 Proficient: 252
  • IEYMS ELA 2017 Proficient: 148

Differential: -104

  • ALMS Math 2017 Proficient: 183
  • IEYMS Math 2017 Proficient: 42

Differential: -141

White Students account for 60% of the Level 4s in Math at Albert Leonard and 63% of the Level 4s in ELA. Minority students account for 90% of the Level 1s in ELA and 82% of the Level 1s in Math. Only 9 students at Isaac Young achieved a Level 4 on the Math 2017 Exam compared to 86 students at Albert Leonard, a 950% difference.

47% of all students taking the 2017 ELA Exam at Albert Leonard were proficient but just 27% were proficient at Isaac Young; for Math 41% at Albert Leonard were proficient but just 13% at Isaac Young were proficient.

At both schools combined, only 8 black students achieved a Level 4 in Math. 18 hispanic students achieved a Level 4 in Math.

We are posting the spreadsheet containing the data so readers are free to poke around and make their own observations and analysis — please add to the comments section.

We cannot help but note that these are the students going into New Rochelle High School. Given this data, how then to explain the “success” in closing the racial/ethnic gap at New Rochelle High School when the performance of incoming students has continued to drop?

Simple, the ELA and Math tests are scored at the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center (outside the District) and the graduation data for New Rochelle High School is “scored” by administrators and teachers at New Rochelle High School. In other words, the ELA and Math data is “real” (i.e. poor) and the Graduation Rate data is “fake” (i.e. good and getting better every year).

EDITORS’S NOTE: The images attached to this article are screen grabs from spreadsheets compiled manually by Talk of the Sound from NYSED Report Card data published in August 2017 and available here.