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Buffalo students score low on new tougher tests

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As predicted by state education officials, scores on the first English and math tests given statewide to elementary school students under tougher new learning standards are not very good.The State Education Department says test results show 31 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 scored proficient in English, with the same percentage meeting or exceeding the standard in math. That compares to last year's results of 55 percent in English and around 65 percent in math. 

In Buffalo, 11.5% of students met or exceeded the English proficiency standard, while 9.6% met or exceeded the math standard.

Education Commissioner John King says the results should be seen as a new baseline, rather than a decrease in student performance.

"It's important to emphasize that the changes in scores do not mean that schools have taught less or that students have learned less, but rather reflect this new standard, the Common Core adopted by 46 states because these standards represent the trajectory to college and career success," King said, on a conference call.

"There may be some who would try to use today's results to attack principals and teachers, that would be wrong.  The results today are not a critique of past efforts, they establish a new baseline for evaluating student's performance going forward."

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch says while the numbers were not unexpected, she is concerned about the achievement gap based on race, ethnicity and English language learners.

"Only 16.1 percent of African Americans students and 17.7 percent of Hispanic students met or exceeded the proficiency standards. 3.2 percent of English Language Learners in grades three through eight met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard," Tisch said.

The new Common Core standards were adopted by the state Board of Regents in 2010. Among large school districts, Buffalo's numbers were behind New York City and Yonkers, but ahead of both Rochester and Syracuse.  

 A summary of the test results, as well as individual school and district results, are available here.