BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- New York's elementary school students scored slightly better this year on the statewide standardized tests given each spring, with nearly two out of three meeting or exceeding math proficiency standards and about 55 percent hitting those benchmarks in English, results released Tuesday show.
Gains made by New York City students outpaced those in the state overall. The percentage of students in the state's largest district who met English and math expectations increased by 3 points and 2.7 points, respectively, over the previous year. That compared with gains of 2.3 percent and 1.5 percent statewide.
Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said the numbers show "some positive momentum," but called reforms on tap for next year critical in preparing all students for college or careers.
"In the fall we will begin to phase in a new, more challenging, content-rich curriculum and continue to press for the implementation of a rigorous teacher evaluation system in every district across the state," Tisch said.
Students in the state's roughly 700 districts sat through a total of six days of testing in April as a way to measure academic achievement, as well as teacher and principal effectiveness.
The scores show that black and Hispanic children, despite gains in scoring, continue to lag behind their white peers. About 37 percent of black students met or exceeded English proficiency standards, compared with 66.4 percent of white students. In math, 46 percent of black students scored at or above proficient, compared with 74 percent of white students. Of Hispanic students, 40 percent were proficient in English and 53 percent met or exceeded the standard in math.
Among the Big 5 districts, the percentage of students meeting expectations in both subjects was up in Yonkers, Syracuse and New York City, though all fell well short of statewide averages. Buffalo students made small strides in English but lost ground in math.
Rochester, meanwhile, dropped across the board. Just under 21 percent of students met or exceeded the English standard, down from 24.4 percent last year, and 27.3 percent met math standards, down from 29.4 percent.
"The progress we see this year doesn't give us a reason to rest, it gives us a reason to strive for even greater gains," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in New York City, where 60 percent of students met or exceeded math standards and 47 percent met the English benchmarks.
This past round of testing was the last based on 2005 learning standards. Future tests will embody the new, more uniform "common core" standards and rely less on multiple choice and more on short and constructed response questions that require higher-order thinking.
Commissioner John King Jr. said the 2013 version of the tests would provide better evidence of progress toward success after graduation.
"We're building a ladder, grade by grade, to college and career readiness," King said in a prepared statement. "These results are a small, positive sign of growth, but not enough of our students are climbing as steadily as they should be. Next school year, we start to implement reforms to make that ladder strong enough to support all our students as they climb toward college and career readiness."