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.” Earlier 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:More information
- 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.
- State release of 2013 grade 3-8 assessments: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/irs/pressRelease/20130807/home.html
- Common Core resources for families: http://www.engageny.org/parent-and-family-resources