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Know Your Rights
Source: New York Daily News
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Students Who Score Below Grade Level on State Tests May No Longer Get Tutoring

Too bad, kids!

More than 100,000 students who scored below grade level on state exams won’t automatically get the extra help they received last year, the Daily News has learned.

Before raising the bar for what was required to pass standardized tests, state officials quietly scaled back when districts must provide tutoring, saying only kids that bombed the exam have to get the extra help this year.

"They’re saying I failed but I can’t get help for it? I think that’s kind of harsh," said Ashley Serrano, 15, who scored just below grade level on her eighth-grade math and English tests at Public School 34 on the lower East Side of Manhattan.

The state Board of Regents changed the requirements in July before the abysmal test scores came out, citing the "potential fiscal impact on school districts."

Advocates** called on the city on Thursday to provide the extra help regardless.

"It’s a betrayal of these students to pull out the services they need – at the time they need it most," said Advocates for Children Executive Director Kim Sweet.

A letter from the newly formed Save Our Schools campaign to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein Thursday called for the chancellor to address the "educational crisis" facing the city because 100,000 more students than last year didn’t meet grade level standards on the state reading exam alone.

At more than 350 city schools, two-thirds of students aren’t meeting the standards.

"If that’s not a crisis, I don’t know what is," said Zakiyah Ansari, Coalition for Educational Justice parent leader, at a rally Thursday on the steps of the Education Department’s headquarters.

The group also called for the city to suspend for a year all the policy decisions based on the tests – such as holding back students, closing schools, issuing progress reports and giving bonuses to teachers and principals.

Education Department spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz rejected the group’s demands not to use the high-stakes tests.

"We need to ensure our students get the education it takes to succeed in this increasingly competitive world," said Ravitz. "Delaying necessary reform, even for one year, will only hurt our kids and take us backward."

An internal agency memo to principals encouraged schools to focus on kids who didn’t meet grade-level standards – for example, by using the extra 37.5-minute period for instruction to address students’ weaknesses.

**Including Make the Road New York (MRNY).