In a letter on its way home to district parents and guardians, Cazenovia Superintendent of Schools Robert Dubik explains the effect new national learning standards could have on student scores in upcoming state exams. Dear Parents/Guardians, As many of you know, students in grades 3-8 are preparing to take the New York state English language arts (ELA) and math exams in the coming weeks. These tests mark a time of transition in our schools, as this is the first year they will be based on the new Common Core Learning Standards. These are national learning standards that have been adopted by New York and states across the country. What does this mean for our children? 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. 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 will be reflected on the upcoming exams. Because of the changes, state officials are already telling parents to expect a dip in student scores on the exams. Research and experience tells education leaders that this is normal. In fact, in Tennessee, where Common Core-aligned tests were given for the first time last year, scores dropped 30 percent from the year before. However, the pace of the changes taking place in our classrooms could make the test-taking experience frustrating for many of our students. During this time of transition, it will be important for us as educators and parents to understand that:
- It’s normal for students to feel a certain level of anxiety around any exams. As parents, do what you’ve always done – encourage your children to stay calm, take their time, review their work carefully, and do their best. Just as with anything students do in school, these exams are important and we want students to take pride in their performance.
- In terms of the scores, we will not be able to compare this year’s exams to last year’s exams in the way that we have in the past. Because the instruction leading up to the tests and the tests themselves are different, any dip in student scores should not be interpreted as a decline in student learning or teacher performance.