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Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Schools
State: Students struggle with Common Core
By Scott Brinton, Brian Racow and Andrew Hackmack, sbrinton@liherald.com
North Merrick School District passing rates compared to New York State and Nassau County averages.

State test scores plummeted to historic lows in most school districts in Nassau County and New York, a result that was expected following the implementation of a more rigorous curriculum.

With the new Common Core Learning Standards put into place last year came new assessments for students in third- through eighth-grades in English Language Arts and math. Less than half the students tested passed, which, despite the warnings from the state Education Department, still came as shock to many school administrators.

Education Commissioner John King Jr. said the lower scores do not necessarily reflect a drop in performance, but instead are an indication of increased expectations. “I understand these scores are sobering for parents, teachers and principals,” he said. “It’s frustrating to see our children struggle.”

In the Bellmore-Merrick

Central High School District

At Grand Avenue Middle School, the passing rate for the seventh-grade English Language Arts exam dropped from 72 percent in 2011-12 to 43 percent under the new standards, and from 86 to 43 percent for the seventh-grade math exam.

Meanwhile, the passing rate for the eighth-grade ELA exam fell from 67 to 45 percent, and from 75 to 35 percent for the eighth-grade math exam.

At Merrick Avenue Middle School, the passing rate for the seventh-grade ELA exam dropped from 79 to 43 percent, and from 88 to 42 percent for the math exam.

And the passing rate for the eighth-grade ELA exam dropped from 69 to 50 percent, and from 76 to 37 percent for the math exam.

Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District Superintendent John DeTommaso said the data will be useful in planning for future instruction, but he said the results of the two exams cannot be compared fairly. “It’s not a valid comparison,” he said, “because they are two different exams.”

DeTommaso said New York was one of only two states –– the other being Kentucky –– to test students this year according to the new Common Core standards, which states first adopted in 2010. DeTommaso said the rush to push through the new testing requirements without adequate time to prepare was “unfair” to students.

“At the end of the day, it’s about kids,” he said.

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