Defying the odds, Yonkers Public Schools has achieved gains on both the 2012 NYS Math and ELA exams. New York State Education Commissioner John B. King announced the results of the State assessments yesterday. Amid drastic cuts to personnel and programs, Yonkers earned the highest levels of proficiency of the Big Four City School Districts (Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers). In Yonkers, 40.7 percent of students met or exceeded the ELA standard, up from 37.8 percent in 2011, and 46.8 percent met or exceeded the Math standard, up from 40.4 percent. While the District continues to trail the State average (64.8 percent), its percentage increases were better than that of the State. Statewide, students proficient in Math increased 2.3 percent (Yonkers, +6.4) and in ELA increased 1.5 percent (Yonkers, +2.9 percent).
“The gains achieved are truly a testament to our teachers and staff who surmount obstacles that educators in most other districts do not face,” said Yonkers Superintendent of Schools Bernard P. Pierorazio. “The District is constantly finding innovative ways to do more with less, and it is through the tenacity of our staff, families and students that achievement occurs.”
Over the last few years, Yonkers’ funding has decreased while its enrollment has increased. Since the 2008-09 school year, the District has been forced to cut over 380 teaching positions, including 27 reading teachers, and curtail program offerings. Concurrently, schools have welcomed approximately 1,500 additional students, and estimated numbers for 2012-13 project further enrollment growth.
Yonkers is also among the few districts that educate large numbers of English language learners (12%) and special needs students (14%), and this impacts the overall exam result for the District. A child who speaks no English is required to take both assessments after only one year of formal education in the District. In the past, the child was given the assessment after three years of formal education.
“We are dedicated to seeing all of our children succeed,” said Superintendent Pierorazio. “We have not reached the mountain top, but we are steadily gaining ground.”