In City Journal

The new City Journal is out. Heather MacDonald worries that the high Hispanic illegitimacy rate is creating a new underclass, while Nicole Gelinas says the Queens Library is a government-funded social uplift program that works, providing books, quiet study space and English and citizenship classes for immigrants.

Sol Stern writes on the very slow growth of New York City’s reading scores.

The scorecard on fourth-grade reading: for the four years prior to the Bloomberg reforms, under chancellors Rudy Crew and Harold Levy, the average annual gain was five percentage points. The Bloomberg administration can claim an annual gain of just two percentage points since its reforms kicked in with the 2003–04 school year.

The eighth-grade reading results are dismal. Since 1999, the percentage of the city’s eighth-graders achieving proficiency has risen just 1.3 points, leaving nearly two-thirds of students unprepared for the ninth grade in 2006.

Stern follows up on an all-minority school that boasted a huge gain in reading scores — for one year. The mayor visited to congratulate the children. The following year, scores plummeted. Nobody noticed.

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  1. Actually, Sol Stern & Andrew Wolf need to take another look at these tests.

    The tests they’re talking about are the brand-new annual ELA tests required by NCLB. Last year was the first year they were given.

    Our own son had a huge drop on the test, too – far larger than I think is probably possible in one year’s time. Let’s hope so, at any rate. (We live in an affluent suburban school district.)

    He took a different test from what these kids took the year before. City kids took a “Bloomberg special,” a test created privately for city kids only. No test items were released (to my knowledge), etc.

    The big jump in reading scores that helped reelect Bloomberg happened on that test.

    That year my son took the TONYSS (Test of New York State Standards), not the Bloomberg test.

    So: we know our son took a “real” ELA test in 5th grade, and we know he did very well on it.

    One year later he took the same test these kids took and showed a huge decline in his score (relative to the rest of the kids in his class).

    His decline doesn’t trip any alarms, because he went from a high 4 to a high 3.

    But the drop is huge. It’s the same drop the kids in that school had, the difference being that they started at a lower level.

    There’s a lot going on here, but no one knows what it is.