Scores on standardized New York State English Language Arts and mathematics tests dropped dramatically this year in both West Hempstead and Malverne, worrying many parents who fear that their children will be negatively affected, and teachers who fear that the scores might well impact their jobs.
In West Hempstead’s grade 7, the percentage of students who passed the exams fell to 25.5 percent in ELA and to 28.3 percent in math from 2011-12’s 60.8 and 82.7 percent, respectively. There were similar drops for Malverne’s seventh-graders, with 40 percent passing the ELA test this year and 33.8 percent passing the math exam, compared with 53.2 and 76.4 percent, respectively, in 2011-12.
Local educators are not so sure about what the tests mean for teachers or parents. “It’s a catch-up game where the state doesn’t tell you about the standards until after the testing,” said Malverne Superintendent Dr. James Hunderfund. “It would have been fairer had the teachers known about the standards before time.”
Hunderfund made it clear that he is no fan of the state’s testing program. “Children don’t graduate from school in the third grade, so we have to keep some perspective on the scores,” he said. “The plethora of testing at every grade level is overkill... My sense is that we’re just traumatizing kids and some teachers when it is not necessary.”
State education officials say that “compared” is the wrong word to use when measuring 2012-13 against 2011-12. “There may be some who try to use today’s results to attack principals and teachers. That would be wrong,” State Education Commissioner John B. King said in a prepared statement. “The changes in scores do not mean that schools have taught less or that students have learned less.”
King added, “The new assessments are a better, more accurate tool for educators, students and parents as they work together to address the rigorous demands of the Common Core and college and career readiness in the 21st century.”