Following the implementation of a more rigorous curriculum less than a year ago, test scores on standardized tests dropped across Nassau County and New York state, but administrators in the Lynbrook and East Rockaway school districts maintain that the exams don’t properly assess students’ skills.
“The test scores do not reflect the actual learning that the kids have in class during the year,” said Lynbrook Superintendent Dr. Melissa Burak.
Under new Common Core Learning Standards, instituted last year, new exams were designed for students in third through eighth grades in English Language Arts and math. The assessments were administered in April, and the results were published last week. Passing rates ranged from 25 to 50 percent, far below the 70, 80 and even 90 percent rates most Long Island district had seen for years. Scoring on the assessments is divided into four levels, and levels 3 and 4 are considered passing grades.
As was the case in districts across the state, Lynbrook’s and East Rockaway’s test scores dropped significantly on both tests in all six grades. When compared with other districts, however, Lynbrook students exceeded the statewide average in every category, and surpassed the Nassau County average in nine of 12 categories.
“We will utilize the comparison information to focus on areas where we can improve and build for the upcoming year,” Burak said of the scores.
East Rockaway students scored below the county average on all of the tests, but exceeded the state average on half of them. The district’s new superintendent, Lisa Ruiz, said that students have not had enough instruction time with the Common Core curriculum, and that it is too soon to test them on the material.
“Students did not suddenly get worse,” Ruiz said. “The results don’t mean that students are learning less and that teachers and schools are performing worse.”
State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. agreed that the lower scores do not necessarily reflect a drop in performance, but instead are an indication of increased expectations. “I understand these scores are sobering for parents, teachers and principals,” he said. “It’s frustrating to see our children struggle.”