From last week's NYT:
The article reports that 82% of NYC students in grades 3-8 passed the NY state math test, up from 74% the previous year and 57% the year before that, and that similar gains in English tests were posted recently.
NYC's mayor is citing the gains as evidence of the benefits of mayoral control of icty schools. Others, however, take the position that the tests had become too predictable, and that gains are "mostly about educators getting used to the exams." A graph of passing rates since 1998 show a dip in scores the year a new test was introduced. Commentators also note that other New York cities showed similar gains in achievement, and that scores of city students improved by an average of 8 points compared to 6 points statewide. Are there significant improvements statewide, or is the test getting easier or more familiar or just being taken more seriously?
It may be difficult to determine based on state tests the extent of gains in achievement. SAT scores may prove to be a better measure of whether real progress has been attained.