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Test Scores Fall, Though School Supes Unfazed

"I don't judge my students based on a volatile exam," said Mt. Sinai Superintendent Enrico Corcetti.

Patch file photo
Patch file photo
As with everywhere across the state, standardized test scores in local Miller Place, Mt. Sinai and Rocky Point dropped dramatically as state education officials increased the benchmarks required for higher proficiency passage – but superintendents are urging parents and students not to worry.

"I don't judge my students based on a volatile exam," said Mt. Sinai Superintendent Enrico Corcetti. "We are in the business of producing functional young adults to enter the business world and college. And we do it well. We will continue to do that."

In a letter on the school district website, Crocetti asked parents not to compare this year's testing to last year's: "They do not correlate," he wrote. In 2011-2012, the district had over 81 percent of students considered 'proficient' in ELA and math – scoring in levels three or four of the exam. Last spring that number fell to 43 percent.

In a statement released Wednesday, State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr., acknowledged that more students across the state struggled on these tests this year than in previous years because they were based on the "new, challenging standards" of the Common Core curriculum.

"We want every single one of our students to be on track for college and careers by the time they graduate from high school," King said. "Our former standards did not prepare all of our students for 21st century college and careers."

Rocky Point Superintendent Dr. Michael Ring said in a letter to parents that he remains "disheartened that over the past three years SED has continually changed the meaning of 'success' as pertains to outcomes on these assessments, with the result being continued degradation, whether in actuality or perception, of the hard work of our students, teachers, and principals."

Despite that, he added, the district "will not be distracted" as it continues to work with students. In Rocky Point, about two-thirds of students scored 'proficient' in 2011-2012 state exams. That number fell to 27 percent this past year.

The tests given this past spring were the first to test students based on the national Common Core curriculum, which New York State adopted in 2010. Individual school districts had three years to implement the Common Core standards, knowing that the spring 2013 assessments were on the horizon. In a recent memo, Ken Slentz, a deputy commissioner in the state's Department of Education, said the Common Core standards "were developed by mapping backwards from college and career success, internationally benchmarked, and informed by research."

State officials have said the cut scores – meaning the specific point totals that determined where students scored within the four proficiency levels – were set based on research and analysis. They said in this way, the scores will provide a benchmark for measuring future progress.

In Miller Place, 74 percent of students scored in the top two proficiency levels, falling to 35 percent after last year's exams. Dr. Marianna Higuera did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mt. Sinai Superintendent Corcetti added in an interview that the drop in scores indicate that the exam needs fixing in future years – which state Sen. Ken LaValle suggested last year (though the bill died in the education committee) and plans on proposing again – pointing out that one mathematics exam even had over two dozen math errors inside of it, a sure sign that it was rushed.

"This isn't a wake up call for the school districts," he said. "It should be for New York State."
Jan August 09, 2013 at 10:11 PM
While people may go through different "phases" in their lives, in this case the "Supes" are "unfazed". Perhaps the author meant the headline to be ironic in an article about education and falling test scores?
Joseph Pinciaro (Editor) August 10, 2013 at 08:56 AM
No, just an honest mistake. Thanks for the edit, Jan.

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