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State Test Scores Take A Dip

Long Island students

struggle on standardized exams

A new breed of standardized tests proved difficult for Long Island students as scores plummeted across school districts, but education officials said Massapequa remained at the head of the class.

“The good news is that Massapequa was above the county average in every measure,” said Lucille Iconis, superintendent of the Massapequa school district. “Our teachers have been and will continue to be involved in extensive professional development throughout the year and we are confident that we are on the right path for future success.”

The New York State Education Department released the results of this year’s math and English language arts (ELA) assessments last week, revealing disappointing results as districts reported average scores lower than in years past.

This year’s state assessments were the first for New York students to measure the Common Core Learning Standards for grades 3-8. Across the state, the percentage of students in grades 3-8 deemed proficient or better in math declined to 31 percent in the latest tests, compared with 64.8 percent in 2012. In English, the proportion of students deemed proficient or better dropped to 31.1 percent statewide. That compared with 55.1 percent of students deemed proficient or better in 2012.

The sharp drop in test scores prompted state Education Commissioner John King to pen a letter to parents, assuring them that the test scores reflect new, rigorous standards and not a decline in achievement or poor preparation by teachers.

“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. The lower proficiency rates that we will see do not reflect that schools are teaching less than they did last year, or that students are learning less.”

Iconis echoed King’s statement and said this year’s scores will help guide new teaching tactics.

“The current scores are based on an unprecedented model to align with the new Common Core Learning Standards that districts across the state began implementing last year, but will more widely integrate throughout the K-12 curriculum in the 2013-2014 school year,” she said. “The new standards focus on developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills with the goal of preparing students to be college and career ready. As cited by the Commissioner, the transition to the Common Core is a dramatic one and this year’s tests will serve as a baseline measurement for student learning.”

The Massapequa superintendent said she knows the scores may be disconcerting; that’s why it is important for the community to understand the reason for the decline.

“Proficiency rates, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding the standards on the new Common Core assessments, cannot be compared with last year’s results,” she said. “The tests are completely different.”