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Common Core Grades Released

Mineola feels state has long way to go

New York State test scores in third- through eighth-grade plummeted on Long Island by 40 percent in the new roll-out of the English and math “common core” exam. While the Mineola School District landed in the middle of the pack across the state, district reps feel the state has a long way to go in assessing student growth.

 

Forty-six states have implemented the common core in an effort to move education toward one unified curriculum. This idea has been combed through during Mineola board meetings over the past two years.

 

District Superintendent Michael Nagler said the end game is to determine whether this new exam tests the standards correctly. Under the new exam, students are graded from one to four, with a ‘one’ indicating a student is not proficient, and a ‘four’ indicating performance beyond proficiency.

 

“All of it requires a very fine alignment,” he said at an Aug. 8 meeting, “that we’re teaching the correct standards, children are demonstrating proficiency in those standards and the test is actually testing those standards.”

 

Planning and implementation both had to be accomplished in a single year, hence, to Nagler, the disappointing results were not unexpected. 

 

“You should not do that [planning, teaching, checking and testing] all in one year,” Nagler said. “That’s why we [in Mineola] do so well on the Regents exam. We have 120-plus years to study.” 

 

When State Education Commissioner John B. King reaffirmed the state’s position on common core assessments at a superintendent summit last year, he mentioned scores might drop compared to the prior tests.

 

“We’re basically starting over,” Nagler explained. “They need to establish a new benchmark.”

 

The exam has more than riding on it than student scores. The results leave all teachers in the same spot they were last year when it comes to the Annual Professional

Performance Review plan (APPR), which evaluates teachers and principals. In APPR, standardized test scores comprise 20 percent of an educator’s “grade.” But because in New

York State teachers are ranked against each other, any drop due to the changed tests will be equal across the board. 

 

Three years ago, Mineola adopted The Northwest Evaluation Assessment (NWEA) to measure student growth, which the district feels is a better evaluation tool than the common core. Nagler said the former is a “growth model” while common core is “aspiring to become a growth model.”

 

NWEA offers a range of educational assessments, along with tools for teacher professional development. Twelve districts on Long Island utilize the system, according to Nagler. 

 

The biggest drop-off from Regents exams to common tests was in eighth-grade math, where Nagler estimated that 92 percent passed the Regents last year, while just 25 percent passed the new test this year: “A bunch of the content that was tested in the eighth-grade exam, the children weren’t prepared for it.”

 

At the Aug. 8 meeting, the district showed the NWEA results side-by-side with the common core results, emphasizing the strength of the NWEA numbers. Averaging across all the tested grades, English students were 70 percent proficient, according to NWEA results. The common core test of English showed student proficiency at 39.8 percent. In math, NWEA results indicated students were 84.1 percent proficient, while state grades came in at just 43.7 percent.

 

“The state is trying to establish a baseline,” said Nagler. “What NWEA has [that] the state doesn’t, is it gives a fall assessment and that’s the benchmark. The state is only testing once a year.”

 

District parent Aileen Scott questioned the effectiveness of NWEA. 

 

“We seem to be putting a lot of emphasis on the NWEA score,” she said. “Whether we like the state tests or not, they’re here and we have to take them. What is the NWEA going to give me information-wise for my child?”

 

While every test has issues, Nagler isn’t about to abandon NWEA yet.

 

“None of these [exams] are perfect, but right now, I’d put my eggs in the NWEA basket before I would the state,” Nagler said.

Board Vice President Christine Napolitano has doubts about the new exam series, which is set to debut an algebra test for junior and high school students in 2015. “We need to take a look at where this is going,” she said. “It really does give you one big headache to think about it.”


News

Senator Jack Martins discussed education, business and drug use among other topics in a an exclusive interview with this newspaper and FiOS 1 News. He’s currently seeking re-election in November, being challenged by Democrat Adam Haber. Pointing to what he called “key legislation,” particularly the tax cap legislation passed in 2011 and prescription drug bill he helped shepherd to enactment, Martins feels New York State is on track to continue fiscal responsibility.

 

“In these last four years, we’ve had four balanced budgets, we’ve cut taxes working together, we have paid off debt, streamlined government, kept spending below 2 percent each one of those years,” Martins said.

A contingent of 80 Mineola runners embarked on their first trek to lower Manhattan last year for the Tunnel To Towers 5K Run through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel toward the World Trade Center site. This year, the United Mavericks, a networking group of local business people that support local charities and causes, are gearing up surpass that number.

Mavericks reps say they’re half way to gathering 1,000 people to run in the event’s 13th year on Saturday, Sept. 28.

 

The run honors a fireman Stephen Siller, who was enjoying a day off planning to play golf before he learned the Twin Towers were hit by two airplanes during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He was one of the 343 firefighters who died when the towers collapsed.


Sports

Though it had already hosted the series of lacrosse games during the regular season this past spring, Chaminade High School’s new Gold Star Stadium was officially christened on Saturday, Sept. 6, named in honor of the 56 alumni who had perished during combat.

 

“Tradition holds that when one dies in the service a gold star is given to the family,” said Chaminade President Bro. Thomas Cleary. “Our 56 Gold Star Alumni are honored for their selflessness, courage, and integrity.”

Although the expectations for the 2014 Mineola Mustangs boy’s varsity soccer season may be somewhat measured, the team enters the season with the goal of a berth in the Nassau County playoffs. The team is young and inexperienced but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

 

There is considerable talent on the horizon. There are only four starting seniors and five sophomores on the roster. Four year starting senior forward Daniel Pardo returns (19 goals in three seasons) as does senior standout goalkeeper Andrew Pereira.


Calendar

Town Zoning Meeting - September 17

International Night - September 18

Bereavement Support Group - September 19


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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