Written by Betsy Abraham Friday, 18 October 2013 00:00
Eudes Budhai, Westbury’s Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Personnel presented the results of this year’s math and English Language Arts Assessments (ELA) at last week’s Board of Education meeting. This year marks the first implementation and findings of the new Common Core Learning Standards, and across the board, scores in the district were much lower than usual.
Because this was the first year the Common Core aligned tests were rolled out to New York schools, lower scores were expected. On the whole, Nassau County saw approximately a 30% dip in scores assessments for all grades. Westbury, saw more of a decrease. Grade 3 ELA scores dropped 42.5 % (17.5 % proficient), math dropped 48.7% (18.9% proficient). Fourth grade ELA dropped 40.6% (15.2% proficient), math dropped 48.7% (15.5 % proficient). Fifth grade
ELA dropped 40% (14.4% proficient), math dropped 56.7% (14.4 % proficient), grade 6 ELA dropped 36 (13.8% proficient), math dropped 47.7 (7.7% proficient). Seventh grade ELA dropped 28.8 ( 18.7 % proficient), math 34.9 (11.6 % proficient), Eighth grade ELA dropped 10.2%, (19.5% proficient), math dropped 24.6 (12.9% proficient).
However, it’s hard to make comparisons to the 2011-12 tests when this year’s tests were completely different. So now, the district is looking ahead to how they can continue to implement the new standards.
“Teachers are encouraged by the Common Core, not discouraged by it,” said Powell’s Lane principal Claudia Germaine.
The new Common Core standards focus on college readiness. The redesigned tests are much more rigorous, with more advanced questions that ask students to think more analytically and critically about a passage or math problem. Now on ELA exams, students must be able to interpret both fictional and literary text, provide evidence based answers, and use more complex vocabulary. Math assessments present word problems that students must first be able to comprehend, before being able to solve conceptually and with the necessary formulas. In that strain, principals and their faculty are working hard to make sure students are better prepared. Powells Lane and Drexel Avenue will be using
EngageNY ELA/math modules to build students skills, as well as using the Journeys Reading Program. Benchmark exams will also be administered to monitor children's progress as they go through the curriculum. Middle school principal,
David Zimbler, says that the sixth through eighth grade faculty will work on proficiency, and building up a love of reading and literacy in students.
And even though the assessments are for grades three to eight, the high school will also be refocusing aspects of their curriculum to be more rigorous and aligned to Common Core standards. According to principal Manuel Arias, the
school will be increasing SAT prep and expanding the school’s STEM program. As they have been in the past, they will also continue to encourage students to take the SATs and to graduate.
District teachers from all grades are also being encouraged to work together to increase communication and share ideas, so that they’re all working toward common goals.
“The pre-K teacher has to know what the 12th grade teacher will be expecting,” Arias said.
The new English Language Arts Assesments require students to think critically and pull information from the text. Here’s an example at how the questions have changed from last year:
Why does the hare stop at the road?
A) To rest
B) To wait
C) To eat
D) To play
Why does the hare stop at the road?
A) He is afraid of the dog
B)He is waiting for cars to go by
C) He cannot remember where he wants to go
D)He wants to play with other hares
In the passage, the snow is compared to sugar. What does that author mean by this?
Read the following sentence from the first paragraph: The snow lay in waves, glistening like sugar. The author uses the word “sugar” to show that:
In the story, the poplar tree changes at the end of the story. How does the poplar tree change? Why does it change? Use details from the passage to support your answer.
Describe the way the poplar grows his branches. Explain why the tree decides to grow them this way, and how the actions of the Old Man, Iris and Mercury lead to his decision. Use details from the story to support your answer. In your response, be sure to include the direction in which the poplar tree’s branches grow, the events that made the branches grow that way, the roles that the Old Man, Iris and Mercury play in this decision, and details from the story.
In what ways does Helen Keller’s relationship with language change? Use details from the story to support your answer.
Closely reread the following sentences from lines 37-39 of the passage. How do these sentences reflect the author’s changing relationship with langauge. Use two details from the passage to support your answer.