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Kids & Education

District 21 continues to outpace city in math and ELA exams

District 21 elementary and middle schools in Brooklyn on average scored much higher than the city on the 2015 Common Core-aligned State English Language Arts (ELA) and math exams, according to results released Wednesday, August 12.

The city announced the scores from this year’s ELA and math exams, which students in the third to eighth grades took, and overall found increases in the scores. Citywide, the mean scale ELA exam score was 298 this year, up from 296 in 2014, and 302 for math, up from 301 last year.
But District 21 in Brooklyn, which covers schools in Brighton Beach and Coney Island, performed much better than the city average and posted a 307 for ELA and a 316 for math.

“The district itself has a strong teacher base [which] engages kids and parents,” said Anna Lembersky, the first vice president of District 21’s Community Educational Council (CEC). “We also have a lot of extracurricular activities, which are chances to do homework.”

Since New York implemented the Common Core curriculum in 2013, District 21 has outpaced the city’s test scores, although in a sample size that contained a little over 13,500 students, compared to about 400,000 total students in the city. In the past three years, the district has had mean scale ELA scores at least eight points higher than the city’s, and scored at least 13 more points than the city in math.

Fewer District 21 students posted Level 1 and 2 math and ELA scores this year, and more scored on the higher Levels 3 and 4. A Level 2 score is not considered a failing grade, but the city says that students that get 3s and 4s are more likely to be ready for the Common Core Regents Exams.

District 21 particularly performed better than the citywide average on the math exams, scoring 14 points higher and having 14 percent more of its students get 3’s and 4’s.

“I think many of the schools look closely at the curriculum…and look to have kids work on problem solving and think critically,” Donna Neglia, the principal of P.S. 216 in Gravesend, said about the district’s math scores.

District 21 has seen a positive decrease in the numbers of its students scoring Levels 1 and 2, and an increase in Levels 3 and 4, in most cases, of about three percentage points since 2013.
But the volume of District 21’s higher scores has only increased by about one percentage point this year compared to 2014.

“Although it shows some improvement, I want us to be cognizant that we have a long way to go,” the district’s superintendent Isabel DiMola said at a CEC 21 meeting a few hours after the city released the results.

However, the score changes in consecutive years are likely not conclusive due to the period of time being too short.

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