NEW YORK (WABC) -- There is some good news for the most expensive public school system in the country, as New York City school kids have improved on Common Core tests for the second year in a row.
They have also narrowed the gap between them and students in other parts of the state, but the caveat is that 20 percent of children statewide refused to take the tests.
"New York City children have raised up their test scores in both math and english," Mayor Bill de Blaso said. "It takes time to change what is by far the nation's largest school system, but today, we have further evidence that we are heading in the right direction."
The mayor called the ramifacations huge, with 400,000 students grades three through eight doing better on the state tests.
While just 28.4 percent were proficient in english last year, the number jumped two points to 30.4 percent. It was a similar story in math, as 34.2 percent proficient increased to 35.2.
The schools have changed, with some classes longer, more parents involved, more training for teachers and more power to superintendents.
The scores aren't great, but they do reflect improvement.
"We have a lot of work to do," Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said. "I'm not satisfied. I will never be satisfied. We need to go from almost there to good to great, and that takes time."
The improvement stretched across every racial category, with minority scores up across the board. For example, black students in english have gone from about 16 percent proficient to 19 percent.
"The naysayers will say 1 percent," said Ernest Logan of the Principals Association. "Well you've never been in a classroom when you've worked so hard to get a child who does not read, getting them to read."
The tests given across the state's 700 districts have become controversial in recent years after being tied to teacher evaluations and the new learning standards, prompting many parents to skip them in protest.
The Education Department says 20 percent of students sat out this year.
New York City students improve Common Core test scores, but most still not proficient
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