Written by Wendy Kreitzman Friday, 27 September 2013 00:00
While there has been much concern, and much confusion, over students’ results in last year’s state assessment tests, Great Neck Public Schools Superintendent Tom Dolan discussed the issue with the school community last Monday evening, Sept. 16, at a session just prior to the school board’s public action meeting. Noting the odd coincidence that the state had predicted a 30 percent drop in scores this year and that is just what happened, Dr. Dolan addressed the issue of a very different way of scoring and said that the scores, thus, were not comparable to scores from years the last few years.
Dr. Dolan said that the state decided in advance how many students would perform at each level. “This was somewhat contrived,” he said.
Dr. Dolan stated that he “supports the common core standards … and higher standards” as well as tougher tests, all because all of this prepares the students for the future. But as for the scores, he does not support “invidious comparisons.” As far as comparisons are concerned, Dr. Dolan said that when regions are compared, the Great Neck schools are always up at the top of the list, including the recent test scores.
Dr. Dolan spoke of “three absolutes” relating to the testing: measuring college and career readiness, students continuing to do well in areas of testing, and doing better working towards college and career readiness (with high numbers going on to college).
Continuing, Dr. Dolan again emphasized that, even with the artificially lowered scores, Great Neck students did, once again, outperform state scores, and remained at the top of the lists of comparisons. One example is the June Regents exams where 90 percent (plus) students passed the exams, while in other areas dealing with comparisons, only 10 percent passed these exams.
When Great Neck schools did their own comparisons with 15 other school districts which they wanted to compare with, Great Neck students’ scores remained in the top 10.
And while the final student scores were not yet released by the state (but would be released online, through the district’s parent portals that night at mid-night, teacher and school building results had been released, with Great Neck teachers all receiving the highest scores. “Exceptional,” Dr. Dolan said, adding that it would be impossible for teachers to receive such high scores without their students being “on-track” and also receiving high scores.
And as far as the state exams being meant to be predictors of future Regents exams, this is not accurate, according to Dr. Dolan. As an example he noted that too many students did not do well on the eighth grade math assessment, yet they received 85 or higher on the Algebra Regents.
Dr. Dolan also addressed the issue of reports indicating that the John F. Kennedy Elementary School was in need of special intervention, that their population needed assistance in specific areas. Dr. Dolan firmly assured that the JFK School was listed by the state as a “school in good standing.” He said that the school and its students “did well on all accounts” but that in 20012 a small percentage of the JFK students did not do as well as hoped for in the area of language.
Dr. Dolan said that the school took immediate charge of the situation and provided necessary services. “We were aware and I believe we already have a remedy to a large degree.” At this point, Dr. Dolan explained that while test scores and partial results come months after the testing, the school district takes action much earlier, as soon as a need is recognized.
GNTA representative Sheila Simone supported Dr. Dolan’s statement, adding that “the state is so far behind.”
“We believe we have done very well … we are proud.” Dr. Dolan stated.