Page 8 - The Rockaway Times

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Page 8
THURSDAY, APRIL 14, 2016
The Rockaway Times
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Solo-Step
Are State School
Tests Easier
This Year?
By Kathy Louis
For the past two weeks,
Rockaway and Broad Chan-
nel students in grades 3
through 8 have been du-
tifully
slogging
through
New York State mandated
English Language Arts and
Mathematics
assessment
tests. This is the third year
the tests have been used to
measure achievement in
Common Core standards.
However, this year there
have been reportedly few-
er stress-induced tears and
stomach aches as well as
fewer parents opting their
children out of taking the
tests. Time limits for the
individual tests have been
waived this year as an-
nounced by the NYS Educa-
tion Department in January.
Public school teachers
and school administrators
have also been under less
stress this year. In Decem-
ber 2015, the state Board of
Regents voted in favor of a
four-year moratorium on
using state test results as a
measure of teacher effec-
tiveness and school success.
NYS
DOE
spokesperson
Jeanne Beattie affirmed last
week that student results of
the 2016 state tests would
not be used to evaluate the
performance of teachers or
schools until the 2019-2020
school year.
Another big change in
the state tests this year is
the
publication
compa-
ny that designed them. In
July 2015, the state Educa-
tion Department dropped
London-based testing gi-
ant Pearson in favor of US-
based Questar Assessment,
Inc. The new tests purport-
edly have fewer questions
and the questions are sup-
posedly
more
appropri-
ate for the grade levels for
which they are intended.
Changes this year are the
direct result of parent and
teacher protests the previ-
ous two years of NYS Com-
mon
Core
assessments.
Teachers protested the use
of tests as tools for profes-
sional performance evalua-
tion. Parents and educators
believed the tests were inap-
propriately difficult. State-
wide, nearly 20-percent of
students
“opted-out”
of
math and reading tests last
year.
A look at the results of
last
year ’s
assessments
may well justify the teach-
er and parent protests. Not
made public until August,
NYS Education Department
scores for public (and char-
ter) school students indi-
cate only 31.3 percent of
test takers passed ELA and
just 38.1 percent passed the
math test. Although these
results are a bit higher than
the previous two years, they
are still indicative of fail-
ure to meet Common Core
standards.
Test results are presented
in four levels : Level I, well
below standards ; Level II,
below standards ; Level III,
proficient ; and Level IV, ex-
cels in standards. (NYC DOE
report card or progress re-
port “grades” use the same
level designations.) NYC
District 27, which includes
Howard Beach, Ozone Park,
Woodhaven, Richmond Hill
and parts of Jamaica, 2015
test results were signifi-
cantly lower than those of
the state as a whole. PS 114
in Belle Harbor and PS 47 in
Broad Channel were among
some of the highest scoring
schools in the district. MS
53 in Far Rockaway, desig-
nated a “struggling” school
Continued on Page 9