Written by Henry L. Grishman Thursday, 22 August 2013 00:00
Dear Parents of Students in Grades 3 through 8,
As you are aware, two weeks ago, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) released scores for grades 3-8 ELA and mathematics assessments that were administered during the spring. While our students’ scores continue to be at the highest levels reported in the state, we know that there are many concerns regarding the significant drop in students receiving Levels 3 and 4 in both assessments. Please know that we share those concerns and question the methodologies that generated those scores. However, we need to place the scores in the context of the changes that have been made in both curricula and testing.
For the first time this year, the ELA and mathematics assessments were based on the Common Core Learning Standards, adopted by the NYS Board of Regents. These standards represent significant changes to course work from kindergarten through 12th grade. Our district has worked diligently to implement these standards and revise curriculum at each grade level. However, NYSED is struggling to provide resources to assist school districts to implement the Common Core and was still adding updated information in the spring of this year.
Contrary to the recommendations of most educators and administrators, including those in Jericho, NYSED opted to test these new standards during the 2012-2013 school year, with a clear understanding that teachers and students were not given adequate time for preparation. In fact, in his letter to parents and families on August 7, 2013, John King, Commissioner of Education, stated:
“I want to make it very clear that the change in test scores (including, possible, one in your child’s scores) does not mean that students are learning less or that teachers and schools are performing worse than last year. Proficiency rates – the percentage of students meeting or exceeding the standards – on the new Common Core assessments cannot be compared with last year’s proficiency results since the old scores are from an old test based on the former standards.”
The Jericho School District is committed to providing educational experiences for our students that are rich in content and rigor. This has always been our goal, and our success has been demonstrated in the large numbers of students who prove themselves each and every year to be college and career ready by their acceptances into prestigious universities and their success as they enter higher education.
While the State Education Department has stated that these scores should better predict college and career readiness, the Jericho School District does not subscribe to the message of failure that is being sent to many of our students. Our district does not determine student readiness for college in these younger grades. Instead, we believe that our course of study enables students to leave Jericho with the knowledge and skills necessary for success, and we work with each student to accomplish those goals.
As you view district and individual student scores, comparing results from 2012-13 with last year’s scores will provide little information and will likely be disconcerting, since the tests measure different standards and were scored using different scale and cut scores. We will provide information about individual student scores when Parent Information Reports are made available to our district. They will be posted on the Jericho Parent Portal, with email notification sent to parents when they are ready.
In the interim, teachers and administrators will continue to analyze the results received and compare them to other assessment data available to us from numerous sources. We will use these multiple measures to determine methodologies to support our students appropriately.
Superintendent Grishman was not available for comment in last week’s edition story “Scores Tumble On New Standardized Test.”