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State assessment scores show progress

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Aug. 21, 2014

On Thursday, August 14, the New York State Department of Education released district and school results for the English and math assessments that students in grades 3-8 took in the spring of 2014.

This was the second year the tests were based on the Common Core Learning Standards, which are meant to be more rigorous and reflective of the skills and concepts students need to be ready for college and careers. Proficiency levels across the state declined significantly last year. In this year’s results, state officials reported some progress.

In a press release from the state Education Department, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said: “The test scores show that students from all economic, race, ethnicity and geographic backgrounds can and are making progress. This is still a transition period. It will take time before the changes taking place in our classrooms are fully reflected in the test scores. But the growth we see is directly attributable to the dedication and determination of so many classroom teachers and school leaders across the state.”

Progress Made in Liberty

As in the past, students' scores on the state tests are converted into a scoring range of 1 through 4 meant to indicate the degree of proficiency in the Common Core standards for the grade level. Scores at level 3-4 indicate proficiency (4 means a student excels in the standards), while levels 1-2 indicate a student is below proficiency.

Many Liberty students increased their proficiency levels in 2013-14. The overall average math score was up by more than 2 percentage points this year, with all but two grade levels seeing an increase in proficiency. On the English language arts assessments, grades 4, 6 and 8 each made gains of between 2 and 5 percentage points. Some grades did see losses in proficiency, similar to trends seen at the state level. For example, eighth-grade math and third- and fifth-grade ELA proficiency scores all decreased at the state and local levels.

“What we’re seeing with the Common Core is that students are more engaged in the classroom. When students are engaged and they take the learning into their own hands, more information is absorbed. It’s really exciting to see,” said Assistant Superintendent Carol Napolitano.

Using Data to Empower Teachers, Students

As in the past, state assessments in grades 3-8 do not factor into a student’s grades for the year. Instead, teachers and administrators examine the data to identify where instructional strategies should change and other ways to support students.

“State assessments are just one data point in time, and you can’t rely on any one test. Instead, you have to look at a variety of data points to make the best assessment of a student’s progress. It’s like when your doctor makes a diagnosis. He doesn’t just check your temperature; he also checks your eyes, ears, weight and heart,” said Napolitano.

In Liberty, that means using multiple methods to evaluate student achievement. One such method is online, student-growth assessments from NWEA, which are aligned with the Common Core and provide instant feedback to help teachers adjust instruction as necessary. Teachers also do formal benchmarking several times a year and conduct short assessments with each curriculum module.

“Our students worked hard last year, and they can be proud of the gains they made. These results simply tell us that there’s still more work for us to do, as a school community, to help students meet today’s high standards,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Silver.

To help with that goal, the following opportunities are planned for Liberty teachers in 2014-15:

  • Staff development programs designed to inspire more effective use of data to improve instruction
  • Discussions on data and instruction during monthly meetings held by grade level and department
  • Time for teachers to meet as a grade level and discuss with colleagues any instructional challenges, opportunities and ideas
  • Curriculum workshops and literacy specialists that will help teachers set up, run and get the maximum benefit from literacy centers in grades K-4

“As our teachers become more empowered to differentiate their instruction, we’ll be better able to support our students at their individual skill levels,” said Napolitano.

District & Statewide Results: Math

Percentage of students scoring at a level 3 or 4

Grade Level Liberty 2013-14 NYS 2013-14 Liberty 2012-13 NYS 2012-13
Grade 3 Math 16% 42.2% 24% 34.2%
Grade 4 Math 30% 42.6% 21% 36.4%
Grade 5 Math 17% 40% 14% 29.9%
Grade 6 Math 30% 38.1% 15% 30.6%
Grade 7 Math 17% 32.9% 16% 27.7%
Grade 8 Math 4% 22.2% 11% 27.5%
TOTAL 19% 35.8% 16.8% 31.2%


District & Statewide Results: English

Percentage of students scoring at a level 3 or 4

Grade Level Liberty 2013-14 NYS 2013-14 Liberty 2012-13 NYS 2012-13
Grade 3 ELA 10% 31.8% 28% 34.2%
Grade 4 ELA 23% 33.2% 20% 36.4%
Grade 5 ELA 21% 29.7% 26% 29.9%
Grade 6 ELA 19% 28.9% 17% 30.6%
Grade 7 ELA 15% 29.5% 25% 27.7%
Grade 8 ELA 24% 35.5% 19% 27.5%
TOTAL 18.7% 31.4% 22.5% 31.1%


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