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July 28 2010

SED releases 2009-2010 test results, raises bar

The New York State Education Department today released the 2009-2010 English language arts and mathematics test results for students in grades 3-8.  According to the report, Schenectady students demonstrated a marked decrease in both subject areas.  This comes after five years of steady improvement.  Due to changes in the testing program this year, Superintendent John Yagielski cautions readers not to simply compare the most recent results to those of  past years.  “It is unreasonable to compare these results to any of the last five years,” said Yagielski.  “Because of the changes, we must look at this year as a baseline.”

The 2009-2010 test results reflect two significant changes.  First, the exams last year were administered later than usual and included more material than previous years.  Testing was previously administered in January and March.  In 2010, for the first time, the exams were administered in April and May.   

Second and most significant, the State Education Department implemented new scoring procedures.  SED raised the “cut scores,” which means that students must achieve higher scores than in the past to reach proficiency (levels 3 and 4).   

From 2005-2009, Schenectady students steadily climbed from 51% of students reaching proficiency in mathematics to 72% in 2009.    In 2009-2010, 38% of students reached the benchmark.  

ELA results are similar.  Schenectady students improved from 40% proficiency in 2005-2006 to 62% in 2008-2009.  Most recent results indicate that 32% of students in grades 3-8 are proficient in ELA. 

NYS Math Grades 3-8
Total District Performance 2005-06 to 2008-09

Academic Year

Levels 1 &2

Levels 3&4

Change

2005-2006

50%

51%

Baseline

2006-2007

51%

49%

-2

2007-2008

41%

59%

+10

2008-2009

27%

72%

+13

 

 

 

 

2009-2010

62%

38%

Base line

From 2005-06 to 2008-09 the District increased by 21 percentage points. 

NYS ELA Grades 3-8
Total District Performance 2005-06 to 2008-09

Academic Year

Levels 1 &2

Levels 3&4

Change

2005-2006

60%

40%

Baseline

2006-2007

57%

42%

+2

2007-2008

52%

47%

+5

2008-2009

37%

62%

+15

 

 

 

 

2009-2010

68%

32%

Base line

From 2005-06 to 2008-09 the District increased by 22 percentage points.

“An opportunity to use the data more effectively is completely missed here,” said Yagielski.  “It would make sense to provide the scores using last year’s score ranges as well as the new score range.   But without that distinction, we can’t connect the data to the previous year or measure potential student growth.”  

The changes to the system are part of SED’s plan to raise expectations of students.  “I understand why the commissioner wants to make changes and make the assessments more rigorous,” said Yagielski.  “But, we need to have the opportunity to be able to use the data now.” 

With the new “cut scores” in place, each of Schenectady’s schools has fewer students achieving at proficiency level.   “But, there is comfort in the fact that there is consistency in the results,” said Yagielski.   “We know the students are not going backwards, but right now we can’t accurately compare their achievement to that of last year.”   

Yagielski said he wants to be sure that the parents and community understand why there is a dip this year.  “Our teachers will be disappointed with the shift,” he said.  “It’s evident that they were moving us in the right direction.  We’ll start from here and look forward.  I am confident we will continue to show growth.”   

Looking forward, the district will continue to utilize curriculum mapping and will be expanding the use of data as part of efforts to improve student academic achievement.

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Scores by Grade Level
See Page 1292