Despite the fact that the new Common Core tests showed that only 26 percent of students in New York City “passed” the new state tests in reading, and only 30 percent in math, Mayor Bloomberg hailed the sharp decline in test scores as “very good news.”

The scores were especially grim for black and Hispanic students, as well as students with disabilities. The achievement gaps on the tests were very large.

“In math, 15 percent of black students and 19 percent of Hispanic students passed the exam, compared with 50 percent of white students and 61 percent of Asian students.

Students with disadvantages struggled as well. On the English exam, 3 percent of nonnative speakers were deemed proficient, and 6 percent of students with disabilities passed.”

Despite the drop in scores, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg appeared on Wednesday at a news conference just as he had in years when results were rosier. He rejected criticisms of the tests, calling the results “very good news” and chiding the news media for focusing on the decline. He said black and Hispanic students, who make up two-thirds of the student population, had made progress that was not reflected in the scores.”

The mayor saw the upside of the scores. The lower the scores, and the higher the bar, he reasoned, the harder students would work to improve their test scores in the future:

“We have to make sure that we give our kids constantly the opportunity to move towards the major leagues,” Mr. Bloomberg said.