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Warwick Valley Central School District

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2010-11 State Assessments

STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT RAISES THE BAR FOR STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT

STATE'S EFFORT TO RAISE STANDARDS MEANS DIP IN TEST SCORES

July 28. 2010 - As part of a larger effort to raise student achievement, the New York State Department of Education recently announced a change in "cut scores" for state assessments.

On July 28, 2010, the New York State Education Department (SED) released test scores for grades 3 through 8 math and English Language Arts exams that were administered to students in May 2010. The results reflect newly adopted procedures from SED that raise the scores students must earn in order to be considered “proficient” in a subject.

Like many districts across the state, Warwick is seeing a dip in its test scores due to a change in the "cut scores" that SED uses to determine whether students are achieving at high enough levels.

The state has essentially raised the bar for all students who take these assessments. While Warwick students performed consistently on the assessments compared with past years, fewer students met or exceeded the proficiency standard and our overall district scores appear lower.

Under the state’s testing system, “cut scores” are used to classify students into one of four performance levels. Students at Level 1 are not meeting learning standards; those at Level 2 are partially meeting learning standards; pupils at Level 3 are meeting learning standards and those at Level 4 are meeting learning standards with distinction. SED has now raised the cut scores for Level 3, meaning students must achieve at higher levels than ever before in order to be considered proficient.

At this time, Warwick's administrators continue to analyze the results of the May assessments to determine what the results mean to our district. More information will be posted once this analysis is complete.

In a report released by the Board of Regents in July 2010 entitled: "A New Standard for Proficiency: College Readiness" (pdf), the Regents used a variety of academic performance statistics to inform this change, saying, "The Regents raised (academic) standards a decade ago. Now the Regents are embarking on a new era of reform to improve student achievement and better prepare graduates for college."

PART OF LARGER TREND TO RAISE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT
SED’s change in the cut scores for the grades 3-8 math and English language arts scores are just one part of a larger effort in New York to raise student achievement. Education Commissioner David Steiner and his colleagues have been traveling around the state over the last few weeks to not only forewarn of an expected drop-off in test scores, but also to share details on the state’s new push toward tests that are less predictable and more demanding.

In a press release, Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said, “For the past several years, we have seen more and more students scoring ‘proficient’ or better on our state tests. At the same time, however, their performance on the NAEP exam — the gold standard in testing — has remained essentially flat. We haven’t been testing the right things in the right ways. ‘Proficiency’ on our exams has to mean something real; no good purpose is served when we say that a child is proficient when that child is not. So we’re improving our assessments by raising cut scores, making the exams less predictable, testing more areas, and making the tests longer. But more rigorous exams are only one piece of the Regents broader reform vision — a vision that includes a more challenging curriculum, better training for teachers and principals, and a world-class data system. In short, we are lifting the bar to ensure that New York remains at the very forefront of the national effort to raise standards.”

For more information, go to the SED website (http://www.oms.nysed.gov/press/Regents_Approve_Scoring_Changes.html).

LETTER TO WARWICK PARENTS, JULY 2010 (pdf)

BOARD OF REGENTS PRESENTATION: "A New Standard for Proficiency: College Readiness" (pdf)