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THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2016
The Rockaway Times
Public Versus Private Schools
By Kathy Louis
Private
and
parochial
schools in New York State do
not have to follow all of the
rules mandated by the state
for public schools. The type
of curriculum and kind of
standardized assessment tests
are the two major examples.
Rules for homeschooled stu-
dents are even more flexible.
Non-public schools are not
required to use the Common
Core curriculum established
statewide in 2013. And al-
though private schools must
use some kind of standard-
ized testing to demonstrate
students’ progress from year
to year, they may choose from
a number of nationally recog-
nized tests instead of the Com-
mon Core assessments public
schools have been mandated
to use the past three years in
the spring.
Parents who home school
their children do not need
to administer standardized
tests each year at all. How-
ever, depending on the rules
of the school district in which
the children reside, they must
demonstrate a child’s achieve-
ments in some way. One al-
ternative method is a written
report by a certified teacher or
even a peer review panel.
Whether public or private,
the means and methods of
educating our children have
been a part of the city and
state’s history since the first
settlers arrived in New York
Harbor. Churches and char-
itable organizations began
early schools. Private secular
schools were for people who
could afford them. It was not
until 1805 that New York State
enacted laws to provide free
public schools for every child
and quite a few more years be-
fore money was generated to
fund those schools.
Although
demographics
have changed and enroll-
ment is not what it was even
a few decades ago, Catho-
lic parochial schools remain
one of the largest groups of
non-public schools in New
York. The education division
of the Brooklyn Diocese has
chosen to embrace Common
Core standards in curriculum
as well as use of the state as-
sessments. However, only
grades 4, 6 and 8 were tested
in English Language Arts and
Math this month, while pub-
lic school students in grades 3
through 8 took the tests.
All Catholic school children
in grades 3 through 8 take the
Terra Nova Common Core
Achievement Test in the fall.
“The Terra Nova test is an
excellent diagnostic tool,” said
Sheila Smith-Gonzalez, prin-
cipal of St. Camillus Catholic
Academy in Rockaway Park.
“We get the results by Decem-
ber 1,” she explained, which
allows teachers to tailor in-
struction according to each
child’s needs.
State
tests
administered
in the spring assess a child’s
achievement of Common Core
standards. “Terra Nova test
reports provide our teachers
with the data they need to for-
mulate instructional programs
that will help our students
meet New York State Common
Core Learning Standards,”
noted an article on the dioce-
san web site.
Smith-Gonzalez agrees and
feels the fall diagnostic test-
ing and resulting education-
al plans give her students an
advantage over public school
children when taking the state
tests in the spring. Although
she declined to make last
year’s St. Camillus state test
results public, the principal of
St. Francis de Sales Catholic
Academy in Belle Harbor was
not as reticent.
Christopher
Scharbach,
principal of St. Francis, pub-
lished overall results of last
spring’s state assessments on
the school’s web site. While
only 31.3 percent on New York
City 4th graders met or exceed-
ed NYS Common Core stand-
ards in ELA, 61 percent of St.
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