Chappaqua school district Superintendent Lyn McKay urged people not to worry about the results of new state test scores, which show a drop in the district and across the state.
“I'm very confident in terms of what I see," McKay said at last Wednesday's school board meeting, referring to overall student performance.
McKay also noted that the district has other ways to measure student performance, such as local assessments, student assessments in classrooms and assessing children individually.
“Our students are doing extraordinarily well and we use multiple data points," she said.
The new scores, released on Aug. 7, are for the ELA and Math tests in grades 3-8 for 2012-13. For the previous school year, 2011-12, the mean scale scores for the tests were in the 600s and 700s, state data show, and dropped to the 300s range this year. More students in Chappaqua dropped to the lower levels of 1 and 2. Previously, the percentage scoring a Level 1 were in the low-single digits or less than one percent. This year, the percentages rose to mid and upper single digits in for most tests, reaching as high as 10.1 percent for the Grade 5 Math. The percentage of students at Level 2 climbed into the 20-percent range, in contrast to a mix of single digits and teens the year before.
A drop in scores was expected, New York State's Education Department noted in a press release. The tests were overhauled to reflect the new Common Core Learning Standards, which were adopted in 2010 by the state's Board of Regents. Due to the change, the share of students deemed "proficient" dropped notably.
A statement from the department said, "This change in scores – which will effectively create a new baseline of student learning – is largely the result of the shift in the assessments to measure the Common Core Standards, which more accurately reflect students' progress toward college and career readiness."
"These proficiency scores do not reflect a drop in performance, but rather a raising of standards to reflect college and career readiness in the 21st century," said State Education Commissioner John King in his department's press release. "I understand these scores are sobering for parents, teachers, and principals. It's frustrating to see our children struggle. But we can't allow ourselves to be paralyzed by frustration; we must be energized by this opportunity. The results we've announced today are not a critique of past efforts; they're a new starting point on a roadmap to future success.
Eric Byrne, Chappaqua's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, noted that it's a "very limited data pool that we have right now.” Data that are unavailable include individual student reports and item analysis. Such items will help to determine students' needs, along with trends, he said, adding that he hopes more information will be available later this month.