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Fair,52°
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
The $700 million come-a-long
Race to the Top money guaranteed state participation
By Howard Schwach

Why did your school-age children have to suffer through ten hours of tests and possibly the humiliation of doing badly on those tests?

So that New York State could get more $700 million from the federal government in Race to the Top funds.

It’s a simple as that.

Not ready for the test. No set curriculum for teachers? No material for teachers to acquaint students with the skills necessary to take and pass the test? Lots of worry about predictions that student scores would drop by more than 30 percent?

Too bad! It’s all about the money, honey.

On Long Island, 37.5 percent of students in grades three through 8 passed the math test — achieved either level 3 or level 4 — in April, compared with 75.4 percent who passed the “less rigorous” in 2012. In Language Arts, the percentage of students passing was 39.6 percent, down from 67.2 percent in 2012.

If your child was one of those whose scores dropped by 30 percent, I don’t have to tell you what that means in terms of self-esteem and angst. You already know.

The dropping scores have ramifications for school district and staff as well.

According to the New York State School Boards Association, 67 percent of the board members believe that sores will go up in their districts on the next test. They are sure their students will do better with another year under their belts.

Perhaps it would have been better for state to wait that year to drop the tests on the students in the first place, but they could not do that under Race to the Top. The federal mandate was to start the program immediately.

It’s all about the money, honey.

There is a grave concern, however, because under the program, those students who do not “meet standards” must get remedial services.

In 2012, that meant approximately 30 percent of the students had to receive some sort of remedial help, an expensive proposition. Now, however, the percentage of students who must receive those services stands at nearly 60 percent — whether or not the students really need those services or not.

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