BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - In the latest round of standardized tests, Buffalo schools failed to make the grade, with troubling results in both English and math.
Sources provided News 4 an early copy of this year's assessment scores in the City of Buffalo. These tests were based on national standards, and while we only have results for the city, it seems those students are falling short.
Eighth grade students taking this year's assessments are barely meeting grade level standards. More than 93-percent of students scored below grade level in math, and only about 1.5 percent scored above.
District Parent Coordinating Council Vice President Bryon McIntyre said, "I'm fighting back tears right now because this is almost criminal. People get paid a lot of money to make things work. This...is not working."
Eighth grade English-Language Arts scores aren't much better. About 87-percent are below grade level, and more than half are two grade levels behind - scoring a level one, the lowest, on the test.
"Level 2 and 1: penitentiary. Drug dealer. Prostitute," McIntyre said. "Because they can't get into college, that's what this is saying."
Level 2 is one grade level behind, and Level 1 is two years behind. Levels 3 and 4 are at or above grade level.
Scores in the fifth grade were just as low. Ninety-percent of students scored below grade level. About 2.5 percent were above.
"I'm no longer going to blame the teachers, I'm not going to blame the parents, it's a system problem," McIntyre said.
Tests taken this past spring in English and math were harder than in years past. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned all New York State residents not to be alarmed if these scores are low - and that's the same message coming from City Hall.
School Board President Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold said, "We're not alone in looking at scores that have declined precipitously."
Nevergold hinted scores would drop when she spoke with News 4 before we obtained this report.
"What the state is looking at now is that this year is a baseline. That's what we've established," Nevergold said. "And from this baseline we will then look to see scores increasing over the next few years."
McIntyre added, "This is a sad day, but I believe we have some of the best students and I believe we have some of the best teachers in the country. I believe that we can do this."
These scores come at a very tense moment for city students and educators. But again - it is not just Buffalo. Many districts throughout the state were expected to score low and the state is fully aware of that.
The full test results for New York State will be released on Wednesday.
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