Although the percentage of students passing the New York state assessments dropped to historic lows this year, District 30 administrators say they are confident that scores will be on the upswing in the future.
At the Aug. 26 Board of Education meeting, the principals of the district’s three elementary schools talked about the plan going forward to raise student achievement. Their message was simple: stay the course.
“We are on the right road and we have a lot of really terrific things happening,” said Forest Road School Principal Erin Malone. “The children worked really, really hard. Our teachers worked really hard. As a district, we put a lot of effort into the Common Core.”
Malone noted that District 30 has already been recognized by the state for its educational practices, including the use of student data to make instructional decisions. She also explained that administrators and teachers meet regularly to talk about the progress of each child.
Amy Pernick, principal of the Shaw Avenue School, emphasized the importance of those meetings. When a child’s progress is discussed, every teacher who works with that student is in the room. If a child gets regular help from a reading teacher, speech therapist or any other specialist, those staff members are part of the conversation.
Pernick said it is now time to get the students themselves involved in the meetings. The children should be involved in setting their own educational goals, she explained.
The 2013 state assessments were the first tests based on the new Common Core Learning Standards. These standards were developed to reflect the skills students need to be college and career ready. Because of the change, passing rates dropped off significantly in school districts.
In 2013, 42 percent of District 30 students in third through sixth grades passed the English Language Arts assessments, and 46 percent passed math. That is a drop from 80 and 87 percent, respectively, of students making the grade in 2012. School officials noted that the two sets of results should not be compared because the tests, and the standards they were based off of, were vastly different.