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Mineola Sets Common Core Town Hall

State standard Q&A panel December 3

The Mineola School District will hold a Common Core town hall on Tuesday, Dec. 3 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Mineola Middle School music room. A Mineola staff-only panel will field questions from concerned parents on the new state testing module, which has been subject to controversy and criticism across New York.

The state reported a 40 percent drop in test scores at the beginning of the school year across Long Island in third- through eighth-grade English and math scores. Mineola’s scores for common core English tests showed student proficiency at 39.8 percent with math grades coming in at just 43.7 percent.

The biggest drop-off from Regents exams to common tests was in eighth-grade math, where District Superintendent Michael Nagler estimated that 92 percent passed the Regents last year, while just 25 percent passed the new test this year. The exams are expected to debut algebra tests for junior and high school students in 2015.

The panel will consist of teachers, principals, Nagler and Assistant Superintendent Patricia Burns. She routinely reports back to the school board from the state capitol about educational matters and is hevaily involved in curriculum structure.

Nagler said they chose the middle school because it was “a more intimate location.”

“We’re really trying to get it formed as a discussion rather than a lecture,” he said. “More of an intimate feel to answer people’s questions and concerns they might have over the standards, curriculum and assessments which are three very different things. We’re not extending out to other speakers. It’s more of answering questions how we’re implementing [the standards] specific to Mineola.”

District officials said District Council of PTAs mentioned parents’ “angst” in not being able to help their children in math areas of the new testing modules. Nagler stated it’s because of the new curriculum.

“It’s not that they don’t know the math,” he said. “The parents do know the math. They just don’t know how it’s being taught.”

Burns prepared curriculum note cards to be mailed home to district parents. They detailed testing overviews and vocabulary as it pertains to the common core.

Trustee Nicole Matzer said the December date gives time for outreach to concerned parents. Furthermore, the math packets have been helpful.

“I can start talking about it on the playground,” she said. “I did receive the first math package that came home...the information on the vocabulary and some examples of how to do some of the problems. It was very helpful.”

The forum takes place after all school winter concerts and two days before report cards will be issued.

“We are listening,” Nagler said. “If people make suggestions or tell us what they are anxious about, we’re going to make every effort to address that as quickly as we can. We’re all in the same boat with this new math. We’re working hard to keep the anxiety away from kids and still do the work.”