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Second year of Common Core tests show slight gains; local scores vary

The New York State Department of Education (NYSED) released results of the 2014 3–8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Math assessments yesterday. Across all grades statewide, 35.8 percent of students scored at proficiency levels in math. This shows an improvement over 2013 when 31.2 percent of students met or exceeded proficiency levels in math. The gains were not as great in ELA. The percent of students achieving proficiency on the ELA exams rose from 31.3 to 31.4 percent.

New York students made some gains in annual ELA and math assessments in 2014.

Results were uneven here in Northern Warren County. A comparison of local eighth grade math scores shows Bolton and Lake George scores exceed the state average at 41 percent proficiency or greater in Bolton and 36 percent in Lake George. In Warrensburg, only 8 percent of eighth graders passed the math assessment; no eighth grade student passed the math exam in North Warren, although 42 percent of North Warren’s 6th grade students achieved proficiency levels on the exam.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires that all students in third through eighth grade take these yearly tests. The annual assessments are graded on a scale of one to four. Level 2 is “partial proficiency,” Level 3 “proficient,” and Level 4 “exceeds proficiency.” A breakdown of test scores for each school is available at the NYSED website.

This is the second year the annual assessments were aligned with the Common Core Standards, which the state adopted in 2010. Educators have been vocal in their opposition to using the new tests so soon after implementing the new standards. Many schools are still aligning curriculum to the Common Core, and teachers have not received the training and materials necessary to prepare students for the new tests.

To address educators’ concerns, the New York State Assembly passed legislation in March that would ban, for two years, the use of test results to determine student placement and evaluate teachers. The Senate has not acted on the bill. “This is still a transition period,” Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said in a press statement, “It will take time before the changes taking place in our classrooms are fully reflected in the test scores.”

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