State: Students struggle with Common Core

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The district typically uses assessment test scores to evaluate teachers and principals and make determinations about instructional needs, eligibility for elementary schools’ gifted programs, honors-track placement in the middle schools and academic intervention services for struggling students. But Palma said the district is currently awaiting further guidance from the state Education Department before making use of this year’s scores in these determinations.

The district is also awaiting instruction from the state on how to format score reports, and until then it is not releasing children’s test scores to parents, Palma said.

In the North Merrick School District

Sixth-graders taking the ELA test at North Merrick’s Camp Avenue, Fayette and Old Mill Road elementary schools did the best of any of the district’s students on the state’s new ELA and math assessments — 59.1 percent of them passed. At the low end of the spectrum, 47.4 percent of North Merrick’s third graders passed the math test.

Last year, the district’s passing rate on the sixth-grade ELA test and third-grade math test was 87 percent and 79.3 percent, respectively.

“Basically, I believe that the state should have given schools more lead time with the Common Core curriculum before they re-designed the tests, because the teachers didn’t even have a year to adjust, and the students didn’t have the benefit of prior years of learning at the Common Core standards,” said North Merrick Superintendent David Feller.

Like Palma, Feller pointed out that North Merrick outperformed county and state test averages this year. He said that making sense of district’s test results is a “challenge” that North Merrick administrators are working through.

The superintendent promised that students who need academic intervention services would receive them. To determine which students need AIS, the district will look to the state Education Department for further guidance.

“The state has made it clear that a low score may not mean a child did not learn. It just reflects the increasing rigor,” Feller said.

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