The second year of Common Core testing showed improved results, but passing rates still fell well below past levels.
The tests were administered in April to students in grades 3-8 in English language arts and math. Students scoring in Levels 3 and 4 are considered to have met or exceeded the state standards. Seaford’s numbers increased across the board, while Wantagh and Levittown saw its greatest improvements in math.
While county averages in math were above 50 percent in grades 3-7, it dipped to 24 percent for eighth-grade. For the first time, accelerated students who took the Integrated Algebra Regents exam were not required to take the state assessment.
Superintendent Brian Conboy was pleased with the results. “We’re very enthused,” he said. “We made some very significant progress from last year.”
Passing rates ranged from 28 percent on the seventh-grade ELA test, to 63 percent on the fourth-grade math exam. The district equaled or exceeded the county average on nine of the 12 tests.
Conboy said that the district tracks each grade — called cohorts — and looks to see if they make improvement from year to year. He said all but one cohort group showed progress.
Interestingly, Conboy pointed out, the same seventh-grade class that struggled in math, had a solid performance on the ELA exam, with 61 percent of students passing.
The district’s first-time test takers, the third-graders, had at least half of its students pass both exams.
Conboy said that district officials still have a lot of data to review, such as how students answered specific questions. That analysis will be used to see how Seaford’s program can be strengthened. “Hopefully it will give us some useful information on how well we have implemented our Common Core curriculum,” he said.
Like many of his colleagues, Conboy said that he is concerned that the tests do not match the curriculum. He said some of the assessments seem to be written above the grade level they are designed for. “Every educator is in favor of strong standards for learning,” he said, “but the assessments have to match what those are.”
Math scores in Wantagh exceeded the county average in every grade, and Superintendent Maureen Goldberg said she was pleased with that trend.
The top mark in the district was on the fourth-grade math test, with 77 percent of students passing. Even the lowest rate, 52 percent of eighth-graders passing math, was more than double the county average.