On Aug. 7 the New York State Ed ucation Department released the results of the new math and English language arts (ELA) tests for grades 3 through 8, and scores were down noticeably from previous years.
Accompanying the release of the grades was a letter from John King Jr., the New York State Commissioner of Education, explaining the low scores.
“You will notice that more students struggled on this year’s test than in previous years. This is because we changed the expectations for New York State students when we adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010,” the letter read.
Reactions from local school superintendents to the scores, as well as to how the state went about the transition, has been fairly negative.
“It’s always disappointing to see your students not do well, but the Commissioner explained that this was a baseline-establishing year,” said Bill Larrow, superintendant of Moriah Central School.
Larrow sent a letter to parents explaining the low grades, and referenced King’s explanation.
Shari Brannock, superintendant at Crown Point Central School was slightly more critical. She said the state started with testing before fully implementing the new curriculum to ready students for the Common Core State Standards.
“We will be ready, but we weren’t ready because we weren’t given time to get ready (by the state),” she said.
The schools signed on to the Common Core Standards, according to Brannock, but the state has yet to decide to sign on to the assessment program.
“It’s frustrating,” she said.
She was quick to point out however that test scores for Crown Point were above the state and county average.
Individual test scores have not been mailed out to students yet, but Bonnie Finnerty, superintendant at Schroon Lake Central School, is taking a proactive approach. They have scheduled a meeting Sept. 19 to meet with parents and discuss the new standards and the test results, and have a presentation scheduled Sept. 26 on what Schroon Lake Central is doing to meet the new curriculum.
King calls the new changes to the curriculum exciting, but says that the test results show that there is a long way to go. In a press release posted on the New York State Education Department’s website, King stressed that the scores will not negatively impact district, school, principal, or teacher accountability.
One thing that the superintendents all seemed to agree on was the hard work put forth by teachers, students and parents alike during the bumpy transition to the Common Core Standards.
“We applaud the students, teachers and parents. They’ve done a fine job amidst the difficulties of the way it was set up,” said Brannock.
A list of test results by school and by county can be found at the state education department’s website: www.oms.nysed.gov/press/grades-3-8-assessment-results-2013.html