After New York State education officials released test scores suggesting that Commack students were significantly less proficient in math and English that previously thought, school administrators said that the scores no not reflect a decline in teaching or learning.
The tests given this past spring were the first to test students based on the national Common Core curriculum, which New York 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 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 curriculum.
“In that regard, the scores for our students have declined,” Commack School District Superintendent Donald James said in a statement. “However, make no mistake; Commack’s academic program is stronger than ever with students demonstrating the successes indicated above. This is because we take great pains to offer an instructional program that allows us to prepare students for whatever they want to do after they leave our high school.”
Across Long Island, 37.5 percent of students in grades three through eight passed the new math test, compared with 75.4 percent last year. In English, the percent of students across those grades passing the latest tests was 39.6 percent, down from 67.2 percent in 2012.
Long Island School administrators lobbied state officials including Senators Stephen Flanagan and Carl Marcellino to slow the implementation of the curriculum.
Commack’s concerns included the notion that the new assessments were implemented with insufficient time to make curricular adjustments and with little to no information related to the structure and scoring of the new assessments, James said. In addition, the Common Core assessments were structured to allow for a significant decrease in the number of students scoring in Levels 3 and 4, which indicate proficiency in the English language arts and mathematics.
Below are the percentages of students that fall into Level 3 and 4 in each grade. Level 3 indicates proficiency in standards for their grade and those in Level 4 are considered more than sufficient for the expectations at this grade.
ELA Level 3: 40.9 Level 4: 4.2
Math Level 3: 31.7 Level 4: 21.9
ELA Level 3: 35.9 Level 4: 16.4
Math Level 3: 32.1 Level 4: 30.1
ELA Level 3: 30.7 Level 4: 6
Math Level 3: 26.7 Level 4: 15.6
ELA Level 3: 24.2 Level 4: 14.4
Math Level 3: 23.2 Level 4: 20.7
ELA Level 3: 35.8 Level 4: 7.8
Math Level 3: 36.9 Level 4: 11.7
ELA Level 3: 36.2 Level 4: 14.9
Math Level 3: 40.2 Level 4: 10.3
Despite significantly lower proficiency rates, Commack did score better than most of New York State.
“We are confident that our program, one that we are consistently working to improve, is one of the finest on the State and the nation,” James said in a statement.