This is the first set of state assessments tied to the more challenging Core Learning Standards, which were adopted by the state in 2010.
"We're still awaiting some information that will allow us to put the numbers in context," Superintendent Mike McGill said in an email to parents. "In a nutshell, however, and as the State predicted, the results aren't as strong as before. While the large preponderance of children continue to score in the 3-4 range, generally speaking, there are also more scores in the 2 range and some "1"s in each grade in each school. We anticipate that our overall outcomes will continue to be among the best in New York State."
Overall, 31.1 percent of students in New York State grades three through eight met or exceeded the proficiency standard in ELA, while 31 percent reached or beat the standard in math.
That's down from 55 percent in ELA and 65 percent in math in 2012, but SED officials said comparisons between such different assessments were not valid and the precipitous drop in scores was expected.
"The new assessments are a better, more accurate tool for educators, students and parents as they work together to address the rigorous demands of the Common Core and college and career readiness in the 21st century," said
State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr.
SED offers test results, information and resources at its EngageNY website here.
As usual, Westchester County students on average outperformed state students: 41 percent of Westchester County students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard and 40 percent of county students were at grade level in math.
The scores unleashed a storm of criticism of the assessments.
State officials' reassuring claims that students will do much better once they and their schools have become properly immersed in the Common Core are based on a fallacy, argued Diane Ravich, research professor of education at New York University.
The tests are flawed by a deliberate choice to tie them to unrealistic standards: the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, she said:
“Proficient” on NAEP is what most people would consider to be the equivalent of an A. When I was a member of the NAEP governing board, we certainly considered proficient to be very high level achievement.
"New York’s city and state officials have decided that NAEP’s “proficiency” level should be the passing mark. Any state that expects all or most students to achieve an A on the state tests is setting most students up for failure.
"If students need to reach “proficiency” just to pass, there will obviously be a very large number of students who “fail.
B students and C students will fail."
Another New York educator writing in Education Week critiqued the state's reaction to the scores.
However, Tim Kremer, head of the New York State School Boards Association, had a more supportive comment in the materials released by the state:
"These test results reflect student achievement using the national Common Core standards and represent a starting point to help us better prepare students for college or the workforce. The challenge for all of us now is to use this information to inform instruction, target remediation efforts and improve teaching. School boards are committed to helping each student achieve greater academic success, measured by fair and accurate assessments."
Scarsdale will continue to evaluate children's growth in a much broader context and over time, not just through state tests, McGill said."As principals and district administrators gain access to the full range of information about this year's state tests and as we have an opportunity to evaluate its significance, we may get back in touch with further thoughts," he told parents. "If you have questions, please share them."