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Sunday, September 21, 2014
Bellmore-Merrick Central District officials lambast state exams
(Page 2 of 3)
Scott Brinton/Herald Life
Caryn Blum, the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District’s assistant superintendent for instruction, said that this year’s seventh- and eighth-grade state English Language Arts and math exams were ‘not indicative of student performance at all.’

Because students’ test results often did not match their performance on past state exams and in the classroom, and because dozens of students did not take the tests, school officials consider the results of this year’s state exams invalid, Blum said.

Still, she said, she worries about the effect that low test results might have on students’ self-esteem. “To me, that’s what it’s all about,” she said.

Statewide, roughly 30 percent of students in grades three to eight passed the new ELA and math exams. In the Central District, the passing rate ranged from 40 to 50 percent among seventh- and eighth-graders, depending on the test. High school students will receive the first ELA and math Regents exams based on the Common Core next spring.

The state is not requiring districts to offer academic intervention services for students who did not meet state standards this year. Instead, the state is allowing districts to make AIS determinations based on local measures.

Bellmore-Merrick will use past state test results and students’ grades from the last four marking periods and on June’s final exams to determine who receives AIS and who does not, Blum said.

Parents will likely receive their children’s individual test scores in mid-September.

Superintendent’s outrage

The new state exams do not “represent the kind of work a student has done over the course of a year,” said Central District Superintendent John DeTommaso.

He expressed anger that the state pushed through the new tests before districts had the chance to fully prepare for the Common Core.

In 2010, 45 states adopted the Common Core, which is based on more difficult nonfiction reading and higher-level math concepts than past curricula and exams. Since then, districts have scrambled to rewrite curricula and train teachers to implement the standards in daily lessons. The Common Core’s purpose, state officials say, is to raise standards and better prepare students for college and careers when they leave high school.

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