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August 8, 2013

Local educators disappointed in test scores

Area school superintendents said that while a decline in recently released state test scores in English and math is disappointing, it is something all New York schools are experiencing.

The change stems from the implementation of the state’s common core curriculum that will be phased in over the next several years. These were the first tests based on the more rigorous standards, which have been adopted by more than 40 states.

The state Education Department on Wednesday released April 2013 scores for grades 3-8 in math and English Language Arts. The state average for proficiency or above (a score of 2 or 3) on the ELA test was 31.1 percent. The average on math was 31 percent. In 2012 the averages were 55.1 percent in ELA and 64.8 percent in math.

Since these are the first results based on the curriculum, state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said in a Wednesday media conference that the scores should not be compared to previous results. The state adopted the curriculum in 2010.

It will more accurately reflect student progress toward college and career readiness than on previous tests. The results do not reflect a decrease in performance for schools or students but create “a new baseline” to measure future achievement, he said.

At Sidney Central School Superintendent Bill Christensen said when compared year-to-year, the 2013 scores of 29.9 percent in math and 26.3 percent in ELA represent a 35-percent drop in scores. But compared to other schools in the area, “we are in the top 5,” which is an improvement over recent history, he said.

The tests are different in style than those previously given in calling for applying knowledge and using high order skills necessary in a real world situation. That is an improvement, he said. While the previous standards may have been too low, it was what the state required. “Now that we have seen the test, staff will be able to work on ways to improve.”

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