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School District Holds Its Own

All test data to be presented at Sept. 16 school board meeting

With a great decline in scores for New York State’s math and ELA (English Language) tests for grades three through eight, the Great Neck School District “held its own,” according to Superintendent of Schools Thomas Dolan. Great Neck’s raw scores are down by 30 percent, while usually 70 percent of Great Neck students achieved mastery.


Great Neck’s scores are much better than the rest of the region (Nassau County), as per information provided by BOCES. In general, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties out-performed New York State. Nassau County out-performed Suffolk and Westchester counties in 11 of 12 measures. Great Neck out-performed Nassau County in every measure.


Discussing the “contrived” test results, Dr. Dolan told the Great Neck Record: “The state determined how may students would pass and fail before a single test was taken.” He said that NYS Department of Education Commissioner John King predicted such scores in November of 2012, stating that there would be a 30 percent failure rate, “and it was.” 


Dr. Dolan explained that these new tests force “teachers to teach to the test,” a procedure that the Great Neck Public Schools do not approve. “We have the very best kids in the state,” he said. And he added that “all the vital materials, all of the exciting learning, went on in the weeks after the testing.”


The district’s Board of Education had, prior to the actual testing, published a resolution opposing such “teaching to the test” and the issue of “too much testing.”


Board of Education President Barbara Berkowitz told the Record: “After analyzing the results, I am aware that our students did comparatively well, considering that these tests were absolutely inappropriate, as our students and teachers have not been covering the materials for the length of time required for mastery.” She added: “I have no doubt that in the coming years our scores will improve.”


Berkowitz said that “all things considered, our students certainly scored comparatively well when we examine the results of neighboring districts and we will continue to offer support to our students and staff on an as needed basis.”


Dr. Dolan also noted the issue of the testing and finances. “The state is, inexplicably, making an effort to declare our public schools a failure, impose new mandates on us and strangling us financially by cutting state aid and limiting our ability to raise money by way of the levy cap.” 


He said that “by declaring more of our students non-proficient, the state compels us to provide them with AIS to assist them in reaching standards … and this will mean more staff, which will mean more money, three months after our budget was approved.”


Parents questioned at first were anxious about the results, but after analyzing the tests and the scoring, the general response was that of great confidence in the school district and satisfaction with their children’s success.


All of the data regarding these state tests and scores will be presented at the Board of Education’s Sept. 16 board meeting. All parents will be invited to attend, via an invitation on the school district’s website. The district will also present a building data report at each building via a PTA meeting early in the year.