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State raises bar on student scoring

TRI-COUNTY AREA—Due to the state changing scoring requirements, fewer students are now meeting the state’s proficiency standards.
The New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner made the announcement that affects students in every school district in the state, July 28. The commissioner raised the cut scores for meeting certain levels. Students are evaluated out of four levels, with three and up meaning they met or exceeded the required proficiency or comprehension in math and English Language Arts (ELA).
Penn Yan Superintendent Ann Orman said she has already sent a letter to parents explaining the student is not suddenly performing badly, but the requirements are now harder. She added she doesn’t disagree with the commissioner’s action, but said she is surprised that it changed so quickly.
When the 2009-10 scores across grades three to eight in ELA are averaged, 54 percent of Penn Yan students met the proficiency level. That is down from 79 percent in 2008-09. For math, 52 percent now meet level three or better in the 2009-10 school year. That is also down from 87 percent in 2008-09.
Normally, when a student scores below level three, the district is required to provide Academic Intervention Services (AIS) to help bring them back up. 0However, with the scoring change, the commissioner is giving districts a one year reprieve from this requirement. Orman said that when Penn Yan gets the individual scores, the district will look at which students are at levels one and two. She explained AIS will still be given to students who need it, regardless of it not being mandatory.
Dundee students dropped by about 40 percent in both ELA and math scoring. According to the New York State Education Department, 54 percent of students are now meeting math proficiency standards. Last year, that number was 90 percent.
In ELA, 46 percent of Dundee’s students are at level three or higher. Last year, 80 percent of students were at that same level.
For Hammondsport, even though more students are below the standard, the school is still doing well compared to other districts in the region. High School Principal Tad Rounds explained that out of 21 BOCES schools in the same region, Hammondsport ELA grade eight is now number four. He explained that last year, ELA 8 was number eight out of 21 districts.
Rounds said that for the 2008-09 school year, 93 percent of students scored proficiently in math. For the 2009-10 school year, only 54 percent met the state’s new standards. He added the 2008-09 number for ELA students was 83 percent. The number for 2009-10 is 62 percent.
“All scores were trending upwards,” he said about how students were doing before this change. Rounds added that even though Hammondsport has a reprieve from offering AIS to students, it will be doing so anyway.
For Odessa-Montour, that change now means that about half of the students are meeting the state’s new proficiency level, when before it was more. In ELA, the 2009-10 number is 53 percent of students. Just last year, though, according to the state education department’s numbers, 76 percent of students met the state’s standards.
In math, Odessa’s number of students meeting proficiency is 50 percent. Last year, it was 88 percent of students in grades third through eighth.
Superintendent Jim Frame said the district will be offering AIS to students that need it, and not wait until the one year reprieve is up.
“I wished that state would have looked at helping teachers and administrators better prepare for the changes,” said Frame. He added that he thinks rigor is important, but that this change was “midstream.”
Frame added that before this change in scoring, Odessa-Montour students had been showing improvement.




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