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New Common Core assessment scores show math, English way down

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As many education officials predicted, scores for math and English language arts in the new, more rigorous Common Core assessment tests were lower than in the past.

More than 70 percent of students from third to eighth grades in the north country were not proficient in either subject, according to data released by the state Education Department on Wednesday.

Teachers began teaching toward the Common Core — curriculum that aligns education standards throughout the country — last fall.

There are four levels a student can achieve in the assessments. Levels one and two are below proficiency. Level three is at proficiency and four is above proficiency.

Statewide, 68.9 percent of students did not meet grade-level proficiency in English, according to a press release. About the same number of students did not meet the math standard.

By county, these are the percentages of students who scored below proficiency at level one or two:

n St. Lawrence County: English, 72.4 percent; math, 81.1 percent.

n Jefferson County: English, 74 percent; math, 78.3 percent.

n Lewis County: English, 72.9 percent; math, 74.3 percent.

Elsewhere in the state, the scores looked worse. In Syracuse, 91.3 percent of students were less than proficient in English and 93.1 percent of students were not proficient in math.

“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,” state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said in a news release. “I understand these scores are sobering for parents, teachers and principals.”

He noted that students will not take the Common Core-aligned Regents exams to graduate high school until 2017.

The grade-level assessments do not affect whether students can move on to the next grade, but they do affect teacher evaluations.

Officials with the Alliance for Quality Education said the test scores indicate schools are not sufficiently funded to properly educate the students, and the organization called for a moratorium on “high-stakes testing consequences.”

“The precipitous drop in student test scores confirms what we have been saying all along: schools are not getting the adequate resources that they need to prepare their students for college and careers. Ultimately, setting the bar high will not produce results when the resources needed to meet that bar are not provided,” Billy Easton, executive director of the alliance, said in a release. “There remains an $8,600 gap in funding per student between rich and poor districts. The schools with more funding performed much better on these tests than underfunded high and average need schools. In fact, schools with greater funding needs saw a much sharper drop in student proficiency on these tests. Shortchanging schools and educators will only set them up for failure with the new Common Core assessments.”

Staff writer Bob Beckstead contributed to this report.

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