A Good Morning in New York

Summer weather on September 26th, blue sky, and some pretty good news. Test scores are up; crime is down.

Good news #1: Math and reading scores are up

AP — The NAEP data from the U.S. Department of Education shows:

–69 percent of fourth graders scored at or above the basic level in reading, from 62 percent in 1998.

–85 percent scored basic or better in fourth-grade math, from 64 percent in 1996.

–70 percent scored at basic or better in eighth-grade math, from 61 percent in 1996.

–75 percent scored basic or better in eighth-grade reading, a drop from 76 percent in 1998.

Compared with students in some similar states, New York students generally outperformed California and Texas, while trailing New Jersey and Massachusetts.

New York students performed better than the national average in eighth- and fourth-grade reading and fourth-grade math, but only matched the national average in eighth-grade math. New York had more students considered proficient or advanced than the national average in eighth and fourth-grade reading, but only matched the national average in eighth-grade math and trailed the national mark in fourth-grade math.

Within New York, the results show little change in elementary math and reading scores from the 2005 results, but significant gains since 1996 especially among black and Hispanic students, according to the state Education Department’s analysis.

Scores among Black and Hispanic students are encouraging.

–52 percent of New York’s black students scored at basic or above compared with 33 percent in 1998.

–17 percent of black students were proficient or advanced compared with 8 percent in 1998.

–51 percent of Hispanic student scored at or above basic or above, compared with 31 percent in 1998.

–18 percent of Hispanic students were at or better than proficient compared with 7 percent in 1998.

Good news #2: Crime is down.

AP — New York state’s overall crime rate continued to drop in the first half of 2007, with the number of rapes decreasing 19 percent and robberies dropping 13 percent, according to a report issued Tuesday.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Denise O’Donnell, commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services, announced that the number of reported crimes dropped from 219,550 in the first half of 2006 to 208,265 this year — a 5 percent decrease.

Murder was down 4 percent, dropping from 406 murders in the first six months of 2006 to 390 for the same period this year. Statewide, rapes have dropped from 1,730 in the first half of last year to 1,406 in 2007.

Vehicle thefts were down 15 percent, and burglary dropped 7 percent. Assault was down 1 percent.

Overall, violent crime dropped 6 percent statewide.

As Groucho Marx would say, “I’ll have another cup of coffee.”

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