A troubling finding in those state standardized test scores are out this week. They show that the achievement gap between students of different races is only getting wider. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
Running for mayor, Bill de Blasio described New York as a Tale of Two Cities, a cauldron of inequality.
Results from the new statewide standardized tests reveal not only that the chasm between white and Asian students on one side and black and Hispanic students on the other still exists, but that it's growing wider.
"I came here to address inequality, and that means inequality in our schools as well, and we will address it," said de Blasio.
This year, overall scores on the tests given in grades three through eight inched upward, but white and Asian students, already ahead, made more progress than black and Hispanic children.
On the English exam, more than 50 percent of white and Asian students were proficient, but fewer than 20 percent of black or Hispanic students passed.
It was the same story on the math test. More than half the white and Asian students passed, compared to 24 percent of Hispanic kids and just 19 percent of black students.
"It is a very big plague on the system," said Merryl Tisch, Chancellor of State Board of Regents.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's approach was to close persistently failing schools and open hundreds of new schools, many of them charters, with different teachers and administrators.
De Blasio has a very different strategy, giving struggling schools more support and services, from pre-k classes to health centers to more teacher training.
"I believe as we deepen our efforts, with full-day pre-k, with after-school, community schools, renewal schools, parental involvement, teacher training and a host of other initiatives, it’s going to have a bigger and bigger impact," said de Blasio.
His critics say the mayor's policies aren't bold enough, given the depth of the problem.
"We need more urgency," said Glen Weiner of StudentsFirstNY. "We have a crisis in our schools, and we need to take dramatic action and we need to take that dramatic action now, and that's not what we've been seeing in this administration, unfortunately."
The mayor said his policies just need a little bit more time to take root and start showing results.