EM Board of Ed: Test prep not the focus of learning


Amid receiving the results of the New York State English Language Arts and math tests, the East Meadow Board of Education maintained that state test preparation should not be the focus of the district.  


The board reaffirmed what was written in a letter sent to district parents last year, known as the “What We Still Believe” statement. “Good, well-rounded teaching is the best preparation for future student success,” the letter reads. “We still believe that parents should be partners in education, making decisions that are in the best interest of their children.”


The district administration is still analyzing the results of the test, said Superintendant Kenneth Card, adding that he hopes the state’s education department will continue to seek input as to how assessments can be improved to so that parents can feel confident that the tests are valid and reliable.


Of all district third-grade students, 77 percent scored proficient on the ELA test and 88 percent on the math test. Of fourth-grade students, 73 percent scored proficient on the ELA test and 85 percent on the math test. Of fifth-grade students, 72 percent scored proficient on the ELA and 85 percent on the math test. Of sixth-grade students, 72 percent scored proficient on the ELA and 75 percent on the math test. Of seventh-grade students, 71 percent scored proficient on the ELA and 80 percent on the math test. And of eighth-grade students, 74 percent scored proficient on the ELA and 47 percent on the math test — though eighth-grade students were also given the option to take the ninth-grade math test instead.


This year, 50.5 percent of East Meadow students opted out of taking the ELA test and 51.1 percent opted out of the math test. This remained roughly consistent with last year’s numbers, which were 51 percent and 50.6 percent, respectively.


The drop in East Meadow’s ELA test opt-out rate follows a similar trend across Long Island and the rest of New York — statewide, 18 percent of students did not take the test, down from 19 percent in 2017 and 21 percent in 2016. State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia in a telephone press conference called the dip a move in the right direction. “Nothing moves fast in the state of New York,” she said.


The opt-out movement started, in part, as a protest against the linking of the results and teacher evaluations — a moratorium on using the scores to assess a teacher’s performance is set to expire next year.


Jeanette Deutermann, a North Bellemore mother and organizer of Long Island Opt-Out, called Elia’s statement bizarre and noted there are still more than 200,000 parents pulling their children out of the test. “I find it absolutely unconscionable that her comment wouldn’t be ‘We understand people are upset and we’re going to try to do better,’” Deutermann said. “It’s like a twilight zone.”


She also said she was pleased and surprised with the opt-out numbers, because every year there are close to 40,000 new parents to educate on the opt-out movement. “You’re trying to break through all the rhetoric,” Deutermann said. “We were shocked the number stayed close to the same.”


—Anthony O’Reilly contributed to this story