State test scores plummeted to historic lows in most school districts in Nassau County and New York, a result that was expected following the implementation of a more rigorous curriculum less than a year ago.
With the new Common Core Learning Standards came new assessments for students in third through eight grades in English Language Arts and math. Statewide, less than a third of students passed either test, which, despite warnings from the State Education Department, still came as shock to school administrators.
Passing rates in Valley Stream’s four school districts were mostly in the 30 and 40 percent range, far below the 70, 80 and even 90 percent passing rates the districts boasted for years. “You can’t compare 2012 results to 2013 results,” said Bill Heidenreich, superintendent of the Valley Stream Central High School District. “They’re based on different standards.”
Instead, Heidenreich compares Valley Stream with the rest of southwestern Nassau County. What he sees is the district and its individual schools moving up the rankings in ELA, while staying slightly above average in seventh-grade math and slightly below average in eighth-grade math.
State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said 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.”
The purpose of the more rigorous curriculum is to ensure that students are ready for college and careers when they graduate. King added that the scores are a benchmark to show how much more progress needs to be made to develop more knowledgeable and skillful students who can be competitive in the 21st century.