Saturday, June 29, 2013

The State of Our Schools

The Albany Business Review continues to publish the statistics from its 2013 School Report. Yesterday, they ranked school districts; today, they reported on student test scores.

Of the eighty-five school districts in the Capital Region, the Hudson City School District is ranked 82, sharing the lower echelon with the other urban districts: Troy 83, Schenectady  84, Albany 85.

Student test scores tell almost the same story. In math and science, the four school districts seem just to be changing positions in the same four slots. In math, it's Hudson 82, Troy 83, Schenectady 84, Albany 85; in science, it's Schenectady 81, Troy 82, Albany 83, Hudson 84. But in English, Hudson breaks from the pack and rises to 78, while the others remain near the bottom: Albany 82, Troy 83, Schenectady 84; and in social studies, Troy rises even higher to 58, with Hudson at 76, and Schenectady and Albany still near the bottom at 82 and 83 respectively.


  1. If I remember correctly from last year, the Hudson City School District did score in the Top 10 last year for one thing. Didn't the teachers rank way up there with the highest teacher's salaries in the state? Wondering if they are still in the Top 10 again? Those 82s & 84s would be great if our students got those as marks on their class tests. Not as a ranking out of 85! With 85 being the worst!

  2. Carole,

    I note that you say that Hudson shares the lower echelons with "other urban districts" (Troy, Albany, Schenectady). That's interesting because Hudson is considered, at least by New York State Education Department, as a rural district. In fact, the Albany Business Review does give Hudson a needs-to-capacity index category of 4, which, it notes, is a "high need rural district," where "3=High need urban and suburban districts, 4=High need rural districts, 5=Average need districts 6=Low need districts.” The other lower echelon districts in the Capital Region --Albany, Troy, Schenectady--are all #3, high-need urban.

    It's easy to see why HCSD has a rural designation, compared to Albany, Troy, and Schenectady if you look at basic enrollment data:

    Albany: 8,600 students in 15 schools. (
    Troy: 4,000 students in 8 schools (
    Schenectedy: 10,000 students in 20 schools (
    Hudson: 1,900 students in 3 schools (

    We're a tiny district in a pretty rural county. I hate to say it, but the urge to call us "urban" comes from the color of our skin (some 30% of our kids are African-American) and is often used to give us an excuse for our low performance. It's a troubling impulse -- to think of us as "urban" just because we have black kids -- and it needs to be seriously examined. Forget the "urban," we (HCSD) have to decide whether "diversity" is a good thing (we're always celebrating it) or a bad thing (we're always complaining about the difficulties of educating "a diverse population" of students). This goes deep. But we need to stop constructing our schools around our preconceptions of the studentbody (race, parental education, poverty, etc.) and pay more attention to what it is that all kids need to learn -- black, white, rich, poor. If we focused on what teachers should teach instead of what (certain groups of) kids should learn, we'd all be better off; most especially our kids!

    peter m.

  3. I took a look at the math list, as those are the toughest teachers to come by. What I see in the top ten are school districts where very little poverty exists. Looking at the bottom ten we find urban and rural communities with very real issues of poverty.

    I'm not taking about median incomes, averages, crime rates, property prices, etc. The simple presence of poverty. The kids who leave those homes each day and try to function in the schools have the odds against them.

    I used to believe that it was all an excuse, that people could pull themselves up by their boot straps and get ahead in life if they were willing to work for it. I now believe that that was true until some 20-30 years ago, when the scourge of drugs reached every trailer park, urban housing project and suburban cul-de-sac in America.

    Drugs were the game changer, and by drugs I mean crack, heroin and crystal meth. Watch 'The House I live In' (found easily via Google) and see what you think.