The New York State Education Department released the results for the grades 3-8 English Language Arts and math exams that saw an increase in test takers throughout Nassau County. The two public school districts in the Five Towns still have differing views on the tests.
Across 56,633 students took the ELA test and 52,066 took the math exam. This is a 2,872 and 2,584 increase from 2018, respectively. Despite the jump, the tests are still not viewed favorably on Long Island as a majority of school districts had at least 50 percent of their student population opt-out of the two state exams given earlier this year.
Students score at the proficient level by achieving level three or four results. According to the SED, there was a proficiency increase throughout the state from 2018, as ELA had a 0.2 percent increase and math was up 2.2 percent from last year.
“During my tenure with the New York State Education Department, I’m proud of the progress we have made in terms of reducing gaps in student achievement,” SED Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said in a statement. “As I’ve consistently said, assessments are a part of the larger picture that we look at when we examine performance levels across the state.”
Lawrence Superintendent Dr. Ann Pedersen acknowledged the issues people have with the tests such as how they differ from year to year and the length of the test. “I find the tests to be very informative,” Pedersen said. “The most important aspect of it for me is the information we gather from the test results. It’s helpful to use more than one source of information when evaluating our students.”
Pedersen noted the proficiency improvement but said she considers other statistics more important for the district. “Our overall test scores are up compared to last year which shows were heading in the right direction,” she said. “But what I focus on the most is the sub-categories such as economically disadvantaged students who take the tests.”
Economically disadvantaged students receive economic assistance programs, such as the free or reduced-price lunch programs. In total, Lawrence had 1,274 economically disadvantaged test-takers this year, a slight drop from last year’s 1,300.
Hewlett-Woodmere had 1,076 test takers as 558 students took the ELA exam and 518 took the math test. Students scored a 69.5 percent proficiency rate, a 1 percent increase from 2018. Opt-outs were at 57 percent of eligible students.
Mark Secaur, Hewlett-Woodmere’s deputy superintendent noted that the district does not try to convince parents to have their children take the tests. “The district’s thoughts regarding NYSED’s 3-8 tests have remained largely the same,” he said. “We do feel assessment is important, but we respect the decisions our parents make related to state testing.”
Previously, Hewlett-Woodmere district officials have said they do not place a high emphasis on the state tests, and use what is called the Northwest Evaluation Association Measure of Academic Progress. The Portland, Oregon-based organization uses research to create what it calls “assessment solutions” that measure student growth and academic skills.