The National Assessment of Education Performance (NAEP) and New York State Assessment Results for 2022 have been released. As expected, national public education critics immediately declared a crisis and impulsively made claims that "the districts with more remote instruction have larger test score losses." Evidence suggests the results are far more nuanced, as seen in a breakdown from Thomas Ultican in his piece, The Phony NAEP Crisis. Certainly, the pandemic had an impact on students, academically, and in particular, socially and emotionally. Additionally, remote instruction will never be the preferred mode of learning for most students. However, declaring a crisis remains suspect and politically opportunistic.
Last spring, I wrote a piece, titled, The Endless Weaponizing of State Tests Against Urban Public Schools & Students, which provided necessary context to interpreting State Assessment Results for Buffalo Public Schools. Thus far, local media have been responsible in how they have analyzed and reported the release of 2022 New York State Education Department (NYSED) Assessment Results. Statewide there was a 1.2% gain for ELA "proficiency" and an 8.2% decline for Math "proficiency", compared to 2019- the last time state assessments were administered pre-pandemic. In Erie County, there was about a 1% decline in ELA "proficiency" and more than a 13% decline in Math "proficiency". So where does BPS stand?
BPS experienced a 0.5% decline in ELA "proficiency" compared to 2019. In ELA, BPS outperformed both Rochester and Syracuse, as well as, Lackawanna and Cheektowaga, and fell just below Niagara Falls by 1.6%. BPS narrowed the gap with Buffalo Charter Schools to 2.2% from 7% in 2019. An internal analysis shows notable growth for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade, and declines for third, fourth, and fifth grade. Similar to the trend statewide and nationally, BPS saw a greater decline in Math "proficiency" of 5.6%, however, less than the decline statewide and far less than the decline countywide. In Math, BPS also outperformed Rochester, Syracuse, Lackawanna, and Cheektowaga, and was just 0.1% behind Niagara Falls and 0.5% behind Albany. BPS also narrowed the gap with Buffalo Charter Schools in Math to 2% down from 10% in 2019.
There's no doubt there is much work to do especially with our youngest learners who were likely more impacted, academically, by the pandemic. However, with considerably higher percentages of students who are economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities, and English language learners attending BPS these results are certainly not something to admonish. Compared to all Buffalo Charter Schools, BPS educates twice the percentage of students with disabilities and more than four times the amount of English language learners.
Thumbing through the data, something really stood out- the significant drop in "proficiency" of Black students at Buffalo Charter Schools, as well as some suburban districts. King Charter which is up for renewal this year, fared the worst, with a 29.4% drop in ELA and a 44.1% drop in Math. In comparison, BPS experienced a decline of 1.1% in ELA and 5.6% in Math for Black students. All Charter Schools had greater declines for Math, and all but Charter School for Inquiry and Tapestry Charter School saw greater declines for Black students in ELA. One could surmise that prioritizing equity and a culturally responsive education is paying off in BPS. See for yourself below:
This should be a wake up call to local and state elected officials and leaders when it comes to continued proliferation of Charter Schools in Buffalo, especially out of state Charter Management Operators. Every Charter School application uses State Assessments as their primary justification for authorization. It's never been soundly justified and these latest findings unequivocally prove such. The idea that Charter Schools are the panacea for urban public education remains a myth that will never be realized.
There are certainly Buffalo Charter Schools which are adequately and meaningfully educating our Buffalo students. Charter proliferation in Buffalo exceeding 25% student enrollment, more than double the New York City cap of 11%, not only harms BPS, but these well-established Charter Schools. It's more than time for our state leaders to act.
Buffalo Board of Education
***The thoughts and opinions shared in this blog series are mine, and mine alone.***