On April 23, Newsday published the New York State math test scores for all Nassau and Suffolk County high schools. According to the article, which ran alongside the scores, each school district had the option of requiring their students to take the Integrated Algebra or Math A test. A majority of the school districts choose to administer both examinations.
The Westbury Union Free School District, as was its rightful option, chose to administer only the Math A examination to their students. Westbury was not alone in selecting this option as 13 other schools also decided to administer only the single exam.
Although presented last on the alphabetically sorted Newsday list, Westbury, according to the test scores, ranked 8th from the worst performing school district, with only 76 percent of the 440 students scoring 55 percent or better; and 10th from last place of those students scoring 65 percent and above.
That means that 1 in 4 students or 1 in 3 students are not achieving passing grades of 55 or 65 percent respectively in Math A. There were only 24 students who performed at or above the 85 percent level or just 6 percent of Westbury students taking the examination.
The majority of all the school districts within Nassau County; 67 percent of the 43 districts, are deserving of praise for requiring their students to sit for both tests - Math A and Integrated Algebra although each had the option of taking one test of their choosing.
Their average test scores for Math A and Integrated Algebra were 88 percent and 85 percent, respectively.
If not comparing Westbury to the 13 other school districts that opted to only administer the Math A examination, Westbury could be considered to be doing fairly well passing 65 percent of the students with a test score of 55 percent or above. Comparing the Westbury results to the 13 however paints a completely different picture.
The test scores from the 13 districts reflect 88 percent passing at the "55 percent or better" test score as compared to Westbury's 76 percent. To some, a score of 76 percent out of a possible 100 is "not in the mud."
On an average 3 out of the 4 might be labeled as fair, the 1 of 4 who scored below the 55 percent is most certainly mired in mud. And that child does not stand alone, for if you do the calculation, 105 students who took that exam failed to achieve even a "fair" test score.
In my opinion, we as a school district are lacking in many areas as evidenced in these published test scores; however, spending is certainly not one of them.
This year's proposed budget for school year 2009-2010 is over $103 million. You could say that as the budgets grow from year to year, should we not expect to measure our investment in the students with concrete evidence such as increased test scores?
We are lacking in so many areas, but the most glaring obstacles are a lack of leadership and accountability from the school board, which cascades all the way up to the Westbury school administrators. Yes, we congratulate the teachers and students who worked so very hard to prepare for and pass this test, but we must also cast a lifeline for those 195 students who in my opinion are stuck in the mud.
Larry D. Wornum
Trustee, Westbury Board of Education