Let the testing begin

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In Valley Stream’s elementary school districts, students in grades 3 through 6 will take the tests beginning April 16. “It is unfortunate that there is an expectation that the scores will drop,” said District 30 Superintendent Dr. Nicholas Stirling. “It brings into question the validity of the assessments themselves.”

Stirling said he understands that there is a need to have a more rigorous curriculum, but he remains concerned about what kind of impact the tests will have on students, specifically those who have struggled on past assessments and those with limited English skills.

Additionally, Stirling said he worries that if a child’s scores drop from one year to the next, he or she could become discouraged. He explained that parents and teachers should be prepared to deal with students’ anxiety and disappointment. “The best thing a parent can do is to indicate to their kids that they believe in them,” Stirling said.

District 13 Superintendent Dr. Adrienne Robb-Fund said she expects student performance to rise in the long run as Common Core becomes the norm. She noted that students who are in the testing grades now have not had the benefit of a more rigorous education early on. But by the time current kindergartners reach third grade, they will have had three years of Common Core-based education before they take their first test.

“As those kids move up the grades, the scores will increase and we’ll see larger percentages of students at Levels 3 and 4,” Robb-Fund said. Students scoring at those levels on the tests are considered to have met or exceeded the standards for their grades.

Frank Chiachiere, a Board of Education member in District 13 and the high school district, and a retired teacher, said he has some concerns about the way the state implemented Common Core, the new tests and the new teacher evaluation system at the same time. Like the superintendents, he agrees that the bar should be raised to make students more competitive in the global marketplace, but, he said, these changes feel rushed.
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