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Grade 3-8 state test scores released in a new era of curriculum and assessment


Posted: August 7, 2013

Education Commissioner John King: Results do not reflect a decline in performance. They are a more accurate reflection of progress toward a rigorous new curriculum.


On Wednesday, August 6, the New York State Department of Education released district and school results for the English and math assessments that students in grades three through eight took in the spring of 2013 – tests that were based on the Common Core curriculum for the first time.


As expected, sweeping changes in curriculum, testing, and scoring practices resulted in a significant decrease in student proficiency levels across the state, including North Colonie, compared to prior years. State officials predicted this would be the case when the assessments were given in the spring, and again on Wednesday cautioned against any direct comparison of the scores with previous years.


According to State Education Commissioner John King, the scores provide a new baseline for student performance based upon the changes taking place in classrooms across the state and the country. The Common Core standards, which are being used in 46 states, were designed to be relevant to the kinds of skills and knowledge that students will need to succeed in the future. As a result, education officials say that the results released on Wednesday more accurately reflect students’ progress toward college and career readiness.


The new curriculum requires students to learn – and teachers to teach – new skills, concepts, and different ways of approaching questions and solving problems. Similarly, many concepts are now taught to students at a different time of the year or grade level than in the past.


Because the instruction leading up to the tests and the tests themselves are different, state officials said that the decrease in proficiency levels should especially not be interpreted as a failure on the part of students to learn or teachers to teach.


"The world has changed, the economy has changed, and what our students need to know has changed," Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said in releasing the results. “These scores reflect a new baseline and a new beginning. We have just finished the first year of a dramatic shift in teaching and learning. Teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards have worked extraordinarily hard to implement the Common Core. With the right tools, the right training, and continuous feedback and support, our teachers –the best teaching force in the country — will make sure all our students are prepared for college and career success in the 21st century.



As in the past, students’ scores on the tests are converted into a scoring range of 1 through 4. Scores at level 3-4 indicate student proficiency (4 is mastery), while levels 1-2 indicate a student is below proficiency by grade level by some degree.


In the tests taken in 2012, the number of North Colonie students in a given grade level who were deemed proficient ranged from 70 to 88, depending upon the grade and subject. Statewide, this range was between 50 percent and 69 percent.


In the 2013 results just released, the percentage of North Colonie students scoring at proficiency levels ranged from 35 percent to 57 percent, depending on grade and subject. Statewide, this range was 28 percent to 36 percent.


Moving forward, state and district officials expect to see instruction strengthened and scores rise as teachers and students adapt to the new expectations and required shifts in learning.


“In North Colonie, our students worked hard to master Common Core Learning Standards skills and knowledge,” Superintendent D. Joseph Corr said. “Our teachers also worked hard and will continue to work hard to develop curriculum and instructional strategies to address the Common Core Learning Standards. As always, we have a dedicated faculty and staff who are committed to ensuring that students maximize lifetime opportunities by attaining academic success.

Grade 3-8 Results on New York State ELA and Math Assessments
Proficiency Levels for North Colonie and New York State


  2012 2013
New Baseline Data
Grade/Test North Colonie New York State North Colonie New York State
Grade 3 ELA 72% 56% 48% 31%
Grade 3 Math 70% 61% 41% 34%
Grade 4 ELA 73% 59% 35% 30%
Grade 4 Math 78% 69% 46% 36%
Grade 5 ELA 70% 58% 45% 30%
Grade 5 Math 78% 67% 42% 30%
Grade 6 ELA 78% 56% 47% 30%
Grade 6 Math 84% 65% 47% 31%
Grade 7 ELA 76% 52% 54% 31%
Grade 7 Math 85% 65% 52% 28%
Grade 8 ELA 75% 50% 57% 34%
Grade 8 Math 88% 61% 54% 28%
Grades 3-8 ELA Overall 74% 55% 48% 31%
Grades 3-8 Math Overall 81% 65% 47% 31%



What do the results mean for our schools and students?


While 46 states have adopted the Common Core standards, less than a handful chose to test on them as New York did last spring. It will take time for curriculum and instruction to catch up with what the new tests measure.


As in the past, the state assessments do not factor into a student’s grades. State test scores are used to help determine which students may need extra help and the best ways to provide extra academic support. State officials are said to reviewing the guidelines surrounding the required extra help, known as Academic Intervention Services (AIS).


Parents of students will soon receive information about their children’s performance on the state assessments. Parents are encouraged to reassure children that any test is just one measure, at one point in time, of their academic progress. Students should know that this is a new system for everyone involved, and the tests they took were more challenging than those taken by the students before them. If their score was lower, it in no way means that they did worse in school last year.


While schools and parents naturally put importance on a given year’s test results, Superintendent


Corr said the district is focused on its larger mission of preparing students for future success.
“North Colonie has prided itself on a long tradition of preparing our students for college and career success,” Corr said. “Annually, 93 to 95 percent of our graduating seniors are accepted to 2- and 4-year colleges, with the rest of our students who choose not to attend college taking positions in the workforce or military. We feel that this is a true testimony to the fine work done by our faculty, staff and students in preparing for the challenge of college and the workforce.”





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