Thursday, 15 August 2013 00:00
Long Island students in grades three through eight saw their New York State test scores plummet by 40 percent compared to last year, but education administrators are telling parents not to fret because this year doesn’t compare to last year.
“The new Common Core assessments and standards are far different than anything New York State students have ever encountered; to compare the results from the Common Core to past exams would be a very unfair comparison,” said Dr. Charles Murphy, superintendent of the Island Trees School District. “These rigorous college readiness standards are far more complex than we ever imagined; in fact, New York State Commissioner of Education, Dr. John King wrote, ‘The change in test scores does not mean that students are learning less or that teachers and school are performing worse than last year.’,” added Murphy. “It’s the matter of more challenging assessments and a shift to a college readiness proficiency benchmark.”
Instead, the scores create a new benchmark for measuring student performance going forward. This test was the first based on the “common core learning standards,” developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices in conjunction with state education officers, and voluntarily adopted by the NYS Board of Regents in 2010.
“The world has changed, the economy has changed, and what our students need to know has changed,” Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said. “These scores reflect a new baseline and a new beginning.” The first cohort of students required to pass Common Core-aligned Regents exams for high school graduation will be the class of 2017.
Because the common core standards are more rigorous, the drop in scores was not unexpected. Earlier this month, King sent a memo to school district superintendents, urging them to use the new scores judiciously when assessing teachers and students.
“These proficiency scores do not reflect a drop in performance, but rather a raising of standards to reflect college and career readiness in the 21st century,” King said. “The results we’ve announced today are not a critique of past efforts; they’re a new starting point on a roadmap to future success.”
The state education department is providing guidance for districts to ensure that students are not negatively impacted by the low scores.
“Naturally, the Island Trees staff will use the information gained from the 2013 assessments to improve education for the future,” said Murphy. “In the end, we can only hope the New York State’s Common Core initiative helps raise the academic achievement levels for all students statewide.” The Levittown School District was unable to be reached before press time.
Christy Hinko and Michael Scro contributed to this article.