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      Scores plummet on new Common Core test, result of changes in assessments

      The State Education Department released the results of the April 2013 grades 3-8 math and English Language Arts (ELA) assessments.

      This year??s state assessments are the first time students are measured using the Common Core Learning Standards, which were adopted by the State Board of Regents in 2010. The tests will establish a new baseline for measuring student learning.

      State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. said Wednesday that, as expected, the percentage of students deemed proficient is significantly lower than in 2011-12. King says the change is largely the result of the changes in the assessments to measure the Common Core Standards.

      Across the state, only 31.1% of students in third through eighth grades met or exceeded the new standard for English language arts. 31% of students met or exceeded the math proficiency standard. This is down from last year ?? 55.1% for English language arts and 64.8% for math in 2011-2012, according to Syracuse.com.

      In Syracuse, only 8.7% of students met or exceeded the English language arts standard and 6.9% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard.

      Syracuse had better scores than Rochester but below the other large city school districts in New York. Superintendent Sharon Contreras says the low scores do not accurately reflect the progress students are making, especially in a challenging urban district like Syracuse, but she will use them as a baseline for future improvement.

      "Those test scores do not define who we are as educators, who we are as a school district, who we are as students. It is data and we will use that data to become better," said Contreras.

      King said the results don??t reflect a drop in performance of schools or students, but that the new assessments are more accurate and are raising standards. King said the results are consistent with other assessments, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Regents exams, and SATs.

      "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," said King. "With the Common Core, we??re building a ladder toward that goal; the assessment scores are a measure of where our students are on that ladder and give us a clearer, more accurate picture of the climb ahead."

      Chris Brown, Superintendent of West Genesee Central School District, says that parents in the district can expect to receive individual reports about their children??s performance within the next few weeks. Brown says it is common for schools to internally audit the results and provide results to parents.

      Brown advises parents not to be concerned with the drop in results this year. He says that because the standards were implemented so quickly, and required a dramatic change in teaching methods, teachers were required to teach new concepts with little time to prepare.

      Typically students learn complex math equations similar to algebra in 9th grade but under new common core standards, that could be covered in a third grade test. West Genesee Superintendent Christopher Brown says only 40 to 50% of his students met the new state standards - in part because teachers were given little time to prepare or adapt lesson plans

      "You had a situation where teachers were teaching material as they were learning it," said Brown. "And that's not fair to the teacher, it's not fair to the student."

      Soon to-be eighth grader Lillian Spencer is a high honor roll student in Solvay. She's typically well prepared for all her classes but was unfamiliar with some of the material on the standardized test she took in April. Lillian could tell how stressful the new material was for her teachers and fellow students.

      "It kind of shocked most of the kids because they didn't know what to write and what to do," said Lillian.

      King says the 2012-13 results will not negatively impact districts or educators. He says no new districts will be identified as Priority schools.

      The Education Department said that the "scores used in teacher and principal evaluation result in similar proportions of educators earning each rating category (Highly Effective, etc) for student growth in 2012-13 as 2011-12. The State provided growth scores to be used in teacher and principal evaluations are based on year-to-year comparisons for similar students."

      Students graduating in 2017 will be the first group required to pass Common Core-aligned Regents exams for graduation.

      Results: ( Click here to see all results )

      - Syracuse - 8.7% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 6.9% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      - Fayetteville-Manlius - Approximately 60.5% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; approximately 59.3% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      - Jamesville-DeWitt - Approximately 56% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; approximately 52.5% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      - Liverpool - Approximately 32.1% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; approximately 37.8% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      - Baldwinsville - Approximately 38.8% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; approximately 41.4% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      - West Genesee - Approximately 42.4% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; approximately 39.8% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      - North Syracuse - Approximately 28.5% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; approximately 31.2% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      - East Syracuse Minoa - Approximately 30.8% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; approximately 42.3% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      - Westhill - Approximately 44.7% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; approximately 31% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      - Skaneateles - Approximately 53.5% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; approximately 46.2% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      - Rochester - 5.4% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 5% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      - Buffalo - 11.5% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 9.6% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      - Yonkers - 16.4% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 14.5% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      - New York City - 26.4% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 29.6% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      State-wide summary:

      -- 31.1% of grade 3-8 students across the State met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 31% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      -- The ELA proficiency results for race/ethnicity groups across grades 3-8 reveal the persistence of the achievement gap: only 16.1% of African-American students and 17.7% of Hispanic students met or exceeded the proficiency standard

      -- 3.2% of English Language Learners (ELLs) in grades 3-8 met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 9.8% of ELLs met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      -- 5% of students with disabilities met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 7% of students with disabilities met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

      How well would you do on the tests? Click here for a sample test to see how you would would do.