Drop in test scores expected: state

JOHNSTOWN – Parents and teachers should be prepared to see lower test scores on grades three through eight state assessments in math and English language arts this year as the tests are redesigned to reflect Common Core Learning Standards, a news release from HFM BOCES said.

A memo from State Education Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz says the drop in scores is expected due to the higher performance standards reflected in the tests, the release said.

“The change in the statewide number of students meeting or exceeding grade-level Common Core expectations is necessary if we are to be transparent and honest about what our students know and can do as they progress toward college and career readiness,” Slentz said in the memo. He explained that the new test scores would not be directly comparable to previous years because the focus of the material has shifted to “more rigorous standards.”

The department cautions parents and teachers that the drop in the number of students meeting or exceeding grade-level expectations should not be interpreted as a failure on the part of the student to learn or the teacher to teach.

Lee Shaver, the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services’ Network Team administrator charged with implementing the Race to the Top initiative – including Common Core State Standards – in local schools, said in the release that the challenge in adopting the standards is to appreciate the need for more rigorous school curricula.

“If the goal of education is to prepare students for successful lives after school, we must ensure that students are equipped with highly developed abilities to think, communicate and innovate. This requires us to raise standards and expectations in the classroom,” Shaver said in the release.

Shaver, along with SED, predicts that the lower test scores will be a temporary anomaly as teachers and students adjust to the new standards.

Area school principals and teachers hope parents take the time to understand how their child’s homework reflects the shifts in learning priorities and teaching methods using the Common Core, the release said.

Parents, guardians and families can find a wealth of resources that help them understand and engage in the “demands and opportunities of the Common Core” with the Common Core Toolkit for Parents and Families, available at engageny.org.