State Education Department
New York City Board of Education

Monitoring Improvement Efforts of Schools with Low Standardized Test Scores

Students in certain grades are required to take standardized tests to measure their competence in reading, writing and math. If a certain percentage of a school's students do not score high enough on a test to demonstrate a minimum level of competence in that skill, the school's performance on that test is considered to be below the State standard. At the time of our audit, most of the lowest performing schools in the State were located in New York City. We examined the actions taken by the New York City Board of Education and the State Education Department in monitoring improvement efforts at such schools.
We found that, while many of these schools use programs developed by consultants in an effort to improve their test scores, the effectiveness of these programs is not systematically analyzed by either the Board or the Department. When we examined improvement efforts at certain schools, we found that the improvement programs were not always effective and some schools were able to improve their test scores even without the help of these programs. We recommend that the Department monitor performance trends at below-standard schools, identify reasons for improvement, and facilitate the adoption of effective practices at other schools. We similarly recommend that the effectiveness of specially funded improvements projects be more closely monitored by the Department.

For a complete copy of Report 98-S-34 click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.
For a copy of the associated follow-up report click here.