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Saturday, October 25, 2014
A sample question from the state’s Common Core algebra module asks students to solve complex problems.
A tale of two tests
Schools to focus on old Regents instead of new Common Core

With the end of the school year on the horizon, Rockville Centre School District administrators were forced to make a choice for eighth-grade algebra students: Which of the two Regents exams that will be administered in June should they prepare them for?

New York state has recently ruled that eighth-graders taking algebra do not have to take a state mathematics exam, but will still have to take two Regents exams: one based on the new Common Core

curriculum, to be administered in early June, and another based on the old curriculum, in late June.

Because the two exams are so different in approach and content, administrators concluded that teachers would not be able to prepare students for both, so they will focus on the old Regents, Integrated Algebra. “If we were to try to do both, I think we’d come up short for both,” Superintendent Dr. William Johnson said at a Board of Education briefing session on Jan. 8.

This is the last year Integrated Algebra will be given by the state. By next year, all algebra classes will have made the switch to the Common Core curriculum.

Johnson said that only the higher of the two Regents grades will be listed on students’ final report cards. According to Johnson, the state has said that it would try to finalize the Common Core results at the same time as the Integrated results, but is not promising it will.

The reason the Common Core Regents grading will take longer is that the state is using what it calls a “post-administration standard setting” on the exam — it will decide what grade is the pass/fail mark after all the exams are graded. “It’s like telling the kids to run the track, and we’ll decide where the finish line is,” Johnson said.

Amid discussion of the tests, concerns were raised about the way the new Common Core curriculum is structured. The curriculum — which the state calls “modules,” and which is available online — is divided into 180 lessons designed for hour-long classes. Rockville Centre has a total of 180 days of school a year, and classes are not an hour long. And students lose days of class to field trips and in-school activities.

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