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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Educators urge calm response to test score drop
By Chris Connolly and Andrew Hackmack

State test scores plummeted to historic lows in most school districts in Nassau County and New York — a result educators anticipated in the first year following the implementation of a more rigorous curriculum.

“This was a learning experience for us,” said Baldwin’s new Superintendent of Schools, James Scannell. “It was a resetting of the benchmarks and our shift was roughly in line with the shifts we saw across the county. The Common Core is here to stay, and we’re going to use this as a way to inform us as to how we can adjust.”

With the new Common Core Learning Standards put into place last year came new assessments for students in third- through eight-grades in English Language Arts and math. Fewer than half of the students tested passed, a fact that shocked many area school administrators despite warnings from the state Education Department.

Passing rates on most tests ranged from 25 percent to 50 percent, far below the 70, 80 and even 90 percent passing rates most Long Island districts had been enjoying for years. The purpose of the more rigorous curriculum is to ensure that students are college- and career-ready when they graduate.

Test results were grouped in quarters. In Baldwin, around 26 percent of the approximately 2,250 students tested scored in level 1 (well below proficiency, according to the State Education Department); 42 percent fell into level 2 (below proficient, a failing grade); 24 percent of test takers were in group 3 (proficient, a passing grade) and a little under 8 percent of Baldwin test takers exceeded the state’s newly raised expectations. (Detailed school-to-school breakdowns by grade level are available at www.nysed.gov.)

Compared to schools across the state, Baldwin held its own. Approximately 32 percent of kids statewide were in level 1, 37 in level 2, 21 in level 3 and 10 percent in level 4.

In comparison to 2012 test results, however, scores fell dramatically. Only 5 percent of Baldwin students placed in the lowest quadrant last year, 25 percent fell in category 2, 55 percent in the third tier and 15 percent were high achievers. (See chart.)

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