Written by Chris Boyle Friday, 01 August 2014 00:00
The Mineola School District Board of Education assessed the district’s performance in recent New York State assessment and Regents testing; performance that Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael
Nagler noted was in need of improvement at a July 24 board meeting.
Nagler addressed issues that students have been encountering with the recently-mandated state assessments, noting the difference in effectiveness between what he called “formative testing,” or testing on a regular basis, and “summative testing,” which is done annually, typically at the end of the school year.
“We like to focus on formative assessments, which are more frequent and give us more information in time to fix something that we see is not working,” he said. “Summative testing doesn’t give us much information in a fashion in which we can fix it...information from the year before, old results, how will that help me fix things? Regular testing is much more effective.”
Nagler spoke on one specific assessment conducted in the Mineola district—the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, an exam conducted most recently in 2009 and 2012 that targets 15-year-olds which he described as being very much in-line with the new Common Core standards recently adopted by New York State. PISA effectively measures legitimate knowledge and not simply a student’s ability to regurgitate memorized facts and figures, Nagler said.
The PISA results Mineola students achieved were found to be lacking when compared to neighboring districts, such as Herricks; however, Nagler noted that certain aspects of the test could make the results somewhat deceptive.
“In our case, we didn’t do too well,” he said. “But this test doesn’t takes into account the social-economic background of the district, and when you take that into account, our results are not high, but they’re not low, either.”
Nagler said the district’s scores on assessment tests are, in reality, less important that the legitimately important, real-world results that the Mineola School District manages to generate; mainly, their success in regents exams and graduation rates.
“We do that very well,” he said. “We have a 95 percent graduation rate, and we have an advanced regents diploma rate that, this year, was greater than Herricks. So, while Herricks’ assessment rates were a little higher than ours, Herricks did not graduate more students with advanced regents diplomas than we did. ”
Nonetheless, Nagler said steps would be taken to improve the performance of students on future assessment testing such as PISA.
“When they take this test in the future, it’s my expectation that we will be above the line,” he said. “They will be prepared to answer questions the way that these tests will put those questions to them. That’s what we’re building toward.”
In other news, there is a new aspect of learning in New York State that the Mineola School District is currently spearheading—online classes. Starting in the upcoming 2014-15 school year, students who are interested in doing so can participate in a “pilot” program where they can take an advanced placement psychology course, Nagler said.
“We’re going to be partnering with BOCES in bringing learning to the online world,” he said. “I’m hoping that we’re going to get some interested students to attempt this and really see how it works; where we can improve, and is it viable to expand this catalog to include children that want to try something online.”
Nagler noted that offering certain course options online can help to increase the overall width of the learning experience due to the fact that class size and practicality would no longer be a consideration.
“We wouldn’t have to worry about when we hold the class, day or night, or if only six students want to take it,” he said. “In this instance, online courses would be cost-effective.”