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Students in nonpublic schools had trouble with state tests, too

SYRACUSE – Private and parochial schools had just as much trouble with New York’s new state tests as public schools did, scores obtained by the Post-Standard show.

Statewide, just 35.7 percent of students in nonpublic schools who took the third- through eighth-grade English language arts tests last April passed them. That’s a big drop from the 61.6 percent who passed the exams in 2012.

In math, it was an even bigger drop – from 62.9 percent passing in 2012 to just 24.1 percent passing this year.

How did your school do? We’ve created a statewide database that lets you look up any nonpublic school’s test scores. You can also compare schools.

The 2013 tests were based on the state’s new Common Core academic standards, and they proved to be far more difficult than the 2012 exams. In the public schools, just 31.1 percent of students passed the ELA test this year, and 31 percent passed the math.

In both years, the nonpublic schools across the state did better on average in ELA than the public schools, but the public schools did better in math. That statewide pattern held true this year in every grade level.

Comparing just the schools in Central New York, the private and parochial schools did better on average on both ELA and math, but particularly in ELA. In the fourth-grade ELA, for instance, the regional average for the nonpublic schools was 49.8 percent, compared with the 26.2 percent average in public schools.

Those numbers are somewhat deceptive, though, because the regional averages for public schools smooth over the stark differences between high-scoring, relatively wealthy districts such as Fayetteville-Manlius and Skaneateles and the low-scoring, poverty-stricken district of Syracuse.

While all of New York’s public schools are required to take the exams, private and parochial schools are not.

The school district of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has its students take state tests, including Regents exams, and it has embraced the Common Core standards, Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Canfield said.

On average, schools in the seven-county diocese outperformed statewide public school averages.

A few public schools remained far above, though. At Eagle Hill Middle School in Fayetteville, for instance, 77 percent of eighth-graders passed the ELA exam, and 83.1 percent passed the math.