Math/ETA test scores in Cazenovia align with state expectations for drop

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The state Department of Education last week released results from the English language arts and math assessments that students in grades 3-8 took last spring. The tests were revamped to reflect the new national Common Core Learning Standards, a set of educational standards developed by education, business and state leaders from across the nation. As expected, the massive changes in curriculum, testing and scoring practices resulted in a significant decrease across the state in student proficiency levels compared to prior years, including in Cazenovia Central School District. “The goal of the new standards is to help students better develop skills and gain exposure in the areas that matter most in the world that awaits them after graduation,” Superintendent of Schools Robert S. Dubik said. “The result is that students are being asked to learn new skills, concepts and different ways of approaching questions and solving problems. The new standards are reflected in an updated curriculum in our schools, and they were reflected on the tests.” Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 9.48.07 AMEarlier this month, state Commissioner of Education Dr. John B. King, Jr., warned New York schools that scores on these assessments were “expected to be significantly lower” than the previous year, largely as a “result of the shift to assessments that measure the Common Core Learning Standards, which more accurately reflect students’ progress toward college and career readiness.” Even U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan said in a recent conference call with New York education officials that students and parents should not be alarmed if the results drop sharply. “The lower proficiency rates that we will see … do not reflect that teachers are teaching less or students are learning less,” he said. Here in Cazenovia, Mr. Dubik cautioned parents in an April letter that a dip in student scores was expected and should not be interpreted as a decline in student learning or teacher performance. State officials have cautioned against any direct comparison of the scores with previous year’s results because the scores reflect new, more challenging tests and standards. Instead, the 2012-13 results should be seen as setting a “new baseline in student scores,” according to King. “Imagine switching from a Fahrenheit to Celsius thermometer,” Mr. Dubik said. “The number would shrink significantly. But the actual temperature in the room wouldn’t change. These new tests not only changed the measuring tool, but also what it measures. That’s why it’s counter-productive to compare new scores with past scores.” Students’ scores on the new assessments fall into one of four levels in relation to the standards:
  • Level 4 excels in CCLS.
  • Level 3 is proficient in CCLS.
  • Level 2 is not proficient in CCLS.
  • Level 1 is well below proficient in CCLS.
The percentage of Cazenovia students who scored levels 3 and 4 on the new tests continued to trend well above the state averages (see chart below). Typically, scores on these test help districts determine if students need extra help in math or English language arts. That won’t change. And, as in the past, the assessments will not factor into a student’s grades for the year. “When our teachers return from summer break, we’ll take a closer look at the scores to determine the best path forward. Just as we always have. The larger purpose of education is making sure students have the skills, knowledge and experiences they’ll need to be successful in life. And we remain as committed as ever to this goal in Cazenovia.” Parents of students who were in grades 3-8 last year will receive letters about their children’s performance on the state tests when they become available. Any parents with questions about their children’s results are encouraged to contact their children’s school principal or teacher(s) for the 2013-14 school year.
 Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 9.49.06 AM
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