New Report Exposes New York’s Education Emergency and Calls for Smarter Spending on Students’ Futures


September 5, 2023

Less than 20% of Students in Key New York Cities Can Read or Do Math at Grade Level

National Parents Union-New York Demands Remaining Covid Relief Federal Funds be Spent on Addressing Academic Inequities

New York — The New York Chapter of the National Parents Union (NPU), an education advocacy organization, today released a new report and analysis highlighting the gross education inequities across New York and calling for the State legislature to support policies that ensure students receive the academic resources they need to prosper.

The pandemic exacerbated troubling education trends in New York and the results were laid bare in the annual state assessments. Despite these clear challenges, New York State still has not spent more than half (54%) of its COVID relief federal funding.

Report Highlights: 

  • Precipitous Drop statewide: Across all of New York, there was a precipitous drop in tests scores:
    • Reading proficiency saw nearly 10 percentage point drop between 2021 and 2022 (from 56.5% reading at grade level in 2021 to 46.8% proficiency in 2022)
    • Math scores saw a 2.5 percentage point decline for students who take the annual assessments in grades 3-8. (40.17% in 2021 to 37.5% in 2022).
  • Students struggle to read: Education inequity is perhaps most alarming in five of five of New York’s biggest school districts (Albany, Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, and Syracuse) 
    • In Albany and Buffalo, less than a quarter of third grade students (24%) are proficient in reading.
    • In New York City, just over half of students (51%) can read at grade level 
    • Just 11% of third grade students in Rochester are reading at grade level
    • Only 13% of third graders in Syracuse are reading at grade level 
  • Ready for High School? 
    • 2% of eighth grade students in Rochester, Albany and Syracuse are proficient in math.
    • In Buffalo, that number rises to just 12%, and in NYC, still only 26% of 8th graders are proficient in math

Research-Based Solutions to Help Students Catch Up

The  National Parents Union – New York supports the National Effort to Support Student Success issued by President Biden on July 5, 2022 and his recommendations for how schools and districts should use their remaining relief dollars. 

The recommendations included: 

  • High impact tutoring and extended learning opportunities: Kids need extra time beyond the seven hour school day to catch up. Districts across New York should be initiating free tutoring programs for families that employ research-based methods to help students catch up in reading and math.
  • Transparency for parents about student achievement: Parents deserve to know if their student is behind. Schools should report regularly to parents about their students’ progress.Districts and schools should also report their systems’ level progress so that the state can provide supportive interventions to schools that need it most.

  • Provide targeted intervention to districts that need it most: Parents and communities need to be involved in district improvement planning and efforts. This requires transparency around student progress and what strategies districts are using to help kids catch up.
  • Ground teaching and learning in research: States across the country are making real, observable progress by adopting strategies for teaching and learning the science of reading and math. We applaud curriculum and standards improvements made by the New York State Department of Education this year and look forward to continuing to support programs to enhance the professional development, coaching and support needed to implement curriculum and standard effectively. 

Over the past year, NPU New York met regularly with parents and experts to find ways to improve academic outcomes for students across the state. Together they advocated for universal dyslexia screening and continued literacy improvement. 

“We believe that the future belongs to those who are prepared for it, and if we don’t take decisive and concrete action now to address inequities in education, we’ll be sacrificing the livelihood for far too many children,” said Ashara Baker, National Parents Union, New York State Director. “The lack of proficiency in core subjects such as reading and math needs to be a wake-up call for all stakeholders. While they are not surprising given various factors, they are still shocking and we must immediately surge resources to get students the support they need.”

To read more about these recommendations, how New York state is allocating its education and COVID-relief funds for education, click here to read our full report. 

Ashara Baker, National Parents Union, New York State Director, is available for interviews.