A few weeks ago, the state of New York implemented the new assessment exams in mathematics and English Language Arts to students in the grades 3-8. This was the first time that assessments were prepared in accordance with the Common Core-aligned State Assessment Standards, which is a sets of standards that are expected at each grade level.
So far, 45 states have already adopted these standards. Kentucky was first to administer these assessments and the results were shocking where sharp declines were noted in terms of percentage of students classified as proficient in different grade levels in mathematics and English language arts. The proficiency rate fell by 30 percentage in Kentucky between 2011 and 2012. However, the numbers were varied across the demographic subgroups.
The shocking decline in proficiency rates reflect the gap between what the children are expected to know in each grade and the higher expectations that have upped previous standards taught in grades 2-3 in the state curriculum. Many people are not sure if the Common Core Standards that are being implemented in many States will improve the standards of learning, which is the premise.
But, what does this means for the state of New York? This is definitely a big question that many are asking at a time when the city is having campaigns to succeed the current Mayor Michael Bloomberg. We all know NYC Mayor held sway over the city’s affairs including public schools for many years. Test scores and a number of other quantitative indicators can help in taking stock of what has been achieved and where we to improve, even though these indicators might be of limited value.
A study was done in 2012 and 2013 in regards to proficiency rates in New York City. The numbers for the year 2012 revealed a positive picture where 47 percent of the students who were tested in NYC were ranked as proficient in English. However, there were disparities across demographic groups where about 40 percent of Latino and Black students reached the threshold compared to over 60 percents of Asians and White students. The study also revealed that students with disabilities together with those who’re new to English language had the lowest proficient rate in English, which were 16 and 12 percent respectively. However, the projections that were done for 2013 revealed a grim picture. Only 22 percent of all the students tested in grades 3-8 were classified as proficient going by Common Core-aligned assessments.
The 2013 projections were done across board, especially for the groups that were tested in 2012. The sharp decline was noted especially when it comes to Latino and Black students who scored 40 percent in 2012, they were projected to drop to 16 and 15 percent respectively, while students with disabilities and English language learner were projected to receive 5 and 3 percent respectively.
These numbers have sent many in the education sector to think on the way forward. The new set of standards are not a guarantee that learning will improve as expected. Teachers and schools have a hard time to improve the proficient rate under the Common Core-aligned assessments. There is a lot to learn about the new system of assessing students and everyone hopes for better things moving ahead.