Written by Rich Forestano Thursday, 15 August 2013 00:00
While the state scores in third- through eighth-grade plummeted on Long Island by 40 percent in the new roll-out of tests based on the “common core” standards, the New
Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District fared well, meeting standards on most testing levels.
According to District Superintendent Robert Katulak, state officials prompted many districts to expect a minimum 30 percent drop in scores because of the new testing module.
Each grade plummeted at or near that margin, according to scores released by the state education department.
About half of third-grade English and math students either met or exceeded levels in the common core, while 57.7 percent of fourth-grade students met the standards in English, and 53.2 percent met them in math.
Fifth-grade English students met the standard at 54.3 with math students topping off at 59 percent. Fifty-four percent of sixth-grade English students met the standard and 57.2 percent of math students were deemed satisfactory.
“The goal is to make sure that most of your students are at the proficiency of levels three and four,” said Katulak. “Before the new assessments came into place, last year we had 85 or 89 percent of our kids at levels three and four in English Language Arts and 85 and 95 percent in math.”
The landscape has changed dramatically, according to Katulak. Essentially, what’s happened the last four years of comparative analysis is “all out the window.”
“The commissioner of education and chancellor have stated that this is the starting point,” Katulak said. “Now we begin again. This is what they call benchmarking data. When
I first arrived at the district six years ago, the state changed the cut scores and the benchmarks and we were probably around the same place we are now with these scores across grade levels.”
Last year, Education Commissioner John B. King spoke at the state superintendent summit, reaffirming the states position on common core assessments, indicating scores may drop initially.
“Basically he was telling us that the rigor and the level of the test was going to be raised much higher than it had ever been before,” stated Katulak of the summit. “If they’re predicting nine or so months before a test that this would be the result, they were anticipating this.”
King sent a letter to district parents and administrators last week, stressing that this new testing model is a work in progress.
“We are making this change to the common core state standards because we want every single one of our students to be on track for college and careers by the time they graduate from high school,” King’s letter said. “Our former standards did not prepare all of our students for 21st century college and careers.”
Katulak said that the federal government projects that every school district will have 90 percent of its students meet or exceed proficiency levels by 2015.
“A lot of districts have made projects towards that,” he said. “We were there. We held our own. Research shows the number one factor in a childs success is an affective teacher.
We have the most affective teachers in the county.”
Seventh-grade English students in the Sewanhaka Central High School District struggled, meeting the standard with a 38.6 percentile rank. Math students met standards at 36.8.
Forty-one percent of eighth-grade students met standards in English. Just 29.3 percent met proficiency levels in math. Sewanhaka officials did not return calls for comment.