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State Education Department Releases Grades 3-8 Assessment Results

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, August 14, 2014

For More Information Contact:
Tom Dunn, Jonathan Burman, or Jeanne Beattie
(518) 474-1201
www.nysed.gov

State Education Department Releases Grades 3-8 Assessment Results

Students Make Progress Statewide
Encouraging Gains for NYC and Black and Latino Students

Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch and State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. today released the results of the spring 2014 Grades 3-8 Math and English Language Arts (ELA) assessments. Students statewide made significant progress in math, including students in every need/resource group (urban, suburban, and rural).  Statewide, the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above in math rose from 31.2 to 35.8 across all grades combined.  The percentage of students scoring at the partial proficiency level and above also rose in math, from 66.9 to 69.6 percent.  Students made slight progress in ELA, (the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above rose 31.3 to 31.4 percent across all grades combined), though progress varied across the need/resource categories. The percentage of students scoring at the partial proficiency level and above in ELA also rose slightly, from 69 to 70 percent.  Encouraging gains were made by Black and Latino students, particularly in New York City.

This year, for the first time, assessment results are presented based on the performance of all students who took an exam last year (2013) compared with those same students in the following year (2014) at the next grade level. This “matched students” approach focuses on growth in student learning and provides more useful data than an approach that compares the performance of one year’s students at a particular grade level against the next year’s cohort of students at that same grade level.  This matched approach is consistent with New York’s USED waiver from No Child Left Behind and New York’s teacher/principal evaluation system.  For Grades 3-8 ELA and math, students at Levels 2 and above are on track for current graduation requirements.  Students at Levels 3 and above are on track to graduate at the aspirational college- and career-ready level (indicating readiness to succeed in credit-bearing first year college courses). 

“The test scores show that students from all economic, race, ethnicity and geographic backgrounds can and are making progress,” Tisch said.  “This is still a transition period.  It will take time before the changes taking place in our classrooms are fully reflected in the test scores. But the growth we see is directly attributable to the dedication and determination of so many classroom teachers and school leaders across the state. When school districts focus on providing the resources and professional development teachers need, their students do better.  Parents want the best education possible for their children, and the tests are one of multiple measures we need to make sure we’re moving in that direction.”

“New York has completed the fourth year of a 12-year Common Core phase-in,” King said.  “Like more than 40 other states, we’re in a period of transition; for us, that transition began with the adoption of higher standards in 2010.  We’ve invested millions of dollars in training to support educators to better prepare students for college and career success, and we will invest millions more in the years ahead.  These assessment results, along with our college- and career-ready high school graduation rate and NAEP scores, show we have a lot of important work ahead of us to ensure the success of all our students.  But with proper support and resources and an intense focus on continuous improvement of instruction, New York’s educators and parents will help our students develop the skills they need for success in the 21st century.”

Although there is some correlation between 2014 math and ELA performance and poverty, there are many examples of schools outperforming demographically similar peer schools.  See http://www.p12.nysed.gov/irs/pressRelease/20140814/home.html for a list of higher achieving schools and higher growth schools at both higher and lower levels of wealth.    

Hundreds of New York educators helped to develop New York’s Common Core assessments.  Every question that appears on a state exam is reviewed by New York educators.  The assessment results announced today follow related data releases earlier this summer. In July, the Department authorized Regional Information Centers (RICs) to release secure instructional reports to districts and schools (for samples of reports, see http://www.boces.org/Portals/0/Web%20Docs/RIC%20Reports/NYSRICsCognos.pdf ).

These reports can be used to analyze student performance at the student, class, school, district, and regional levels. Earlier this month, the Department also released 50 percent of the 2014 Grades 3-8 ELA and math test questions (an increase from 25 percent for the 2013 tests), with detailed explanations for correct and incorrect responses (2014 annotated items can be found at https://www.engageny.org/resource/new-york-state-common-core-sample-questions ). Released test questions help teachers and families better understand how the standards were measured and the reasons why students may have responded incorrectly. 

Summary of 3-8 Exam Results:

Mathematics

  • Students statewide are doing better in math. The percentage of students who met or exceeded the proficiency standard (by scoring at a Level 3 or 4) increased from 31.2 to 35.8 across all grades combined.  The percentage of students scoring at the partial proficiency level and above also rose, from 66.9 percent to 69.6 percent. 
  • A smaller percentage of students met or exceeded the proficiency standard (by scoring at a Level 3 or 4) in the Big 4 city school districts than statewide. However, year-to-year performance increased in each Big 5 city school district, and New York City performance approached statewide levels.
    • Buffalo: the percentage of students scoring at Level 3 and above improved from 11.4 in 2013 to 13.1 in 2014.
    • New York City: the percentage of students scoring at Level 3 and above improved from 30.1 in 2013 to 34.5 in 2014.
    • Syracuse: the percentage of students scoring at Level 3 and above improved from 7.2 in 2013 to 7.6 in 2014.
    • Rochester: the percentage of students scoring at Level 3 and above improved from 4.8 in 2013 to 6.8 in 2014.
    • Yonkers: the percentage of students scoring at Level 3 and above improved from 16.1 in 2013 to 21.1 in 2014.
  • Although the achievement gap remains statewide, an increased percentage of students across all race/ethnicity groups met or exceeded the proficiency standard (by scoring at a Level 3 or 4).
    • Black students: the statewide percentage of students scoring at Level 3 and above across all grades combined improved from 16.1 in 2013 to 19.3 in 2014.
    • Hispanic students: the statewide percentage of students scoring at Level 3 and above across all grades combined improved from 18.9 in 2013 to 23.1 in 2014.

 ELA

  • Students statewide are doing slightly better in ELA. The percentage of students who met or exceeded the proficiency standard (by scoring at a Level 3 or 4) increased from 31.3 to 31.4 across grades combined.  The percentage of students scoring at the partial proficiency level and above also rose, from 69.0 percent to 70.0 percent. 
  • A smaller percentage of students met or exceeded the proficiency standard (by scoring at a Level 3 or 4) in the Big 4 city school districts than statewide. Year-to-year performance increases were largest in New York City and Yonkers, and New York City’s performance approached statewide levels.
    • Buffalo: the percentage of students scoring at Level 3 and above improved from 12.1 in 2013 to 12.2 in 2014.
    • New York City: the percentage of students scoring at Level 3 and above improved from 27.4 in 2013 to 29.4 in 2014.
    • Syracuse: the percentage of students scoring at Level 3 and above stayed the same, at 8.5, from 2013 to 2014.
    • Rochester: the percentage of students scoring at Level 3 and above improved from 5.6 in 2013 to 5.7 in 2014.
    • Yonkers: the percentage of students scoring at Level 3 and above improved from 16.9 in 2013 to 18.7 in 2014.
  • In New York City, an increased percentage of students in all race/ethnicity groups met or exceeded the proficiency standard (by scoring at a Level 3 or 4). For example:
    • Black students: the percentage of students scoring at Level 3 and above across all grades combined improved from 17.2 in 2013 to 18.6 in 2014.
    • Hispanic students: the percentage of students scoring at Level 3 and above across all grades combined improved from 17.2 in 2013 to 18.7 in 2014.

The Department continues to provide professional development support and resources for educators seeking to improve their understanding and implementation of the Common Core.  For example:

  • Earlier this week, the Department  awarded Teaching is the Core grants to districts to support teams of administrators and teachers in reviewing all local assessments given in the district, eliminating non-essential assessments, and improving districts practices around the use of assessment to inform high-quality instruction.
  • The Department is providing $500 million of Race to the Top funding to school districts to support their work to raise standards for teaching and learning:
    • Approximately $350 million was provided through Race to the Top formula grants available to all districts, along with approximately $150 million in competitive grants to districts and higher education partners, including several focused on career ladder models in which highly effective teachers and principals coach their colleagues and strengthen district professional development support for schools.
  • The Department supported almost 12,000 principal and teacher leaders and regional professional development coordinators on ways to successfully implement the Common Core, through 23 multi-day Network Team Institutes in Albany. 
  • The Department provided teachers with tools and resources to successfully implement the Common Core, including exemplar curricular materials and videos of excellent instruction, through its EngageNY.org website.  Recognized nationally as an excellent source of high quality teaching materials, EngageNY.org has had over 73 million page views and the optional curriculum materials have been downloaded over 8 million times.

A summary of the test results, as well as individual school and district results, are available at: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/irs/pressRelease/20140814/home.html

Educators from across the State offer perspectives on the value of the data and how they'll use it to inform instructional decisions: https://www.engageny.org/resource/educator-perspectives-3-8-grade-assessment-score-release

NOTE: Following are statements from educators and business leaders in reaction to today’s release.

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Statements on the 2013-2014 Grade 3-8 Score Release

  • "I am encouraged to see New York State students trending in a positive direction as we continue to implement the higher Common Core standards.  Parents, teachers, school leaders, and community partners should be proud of the progress we are making, but our collective efforts must continue in order to deliver the best possible results for our children. As we move forward with the Common Core and work together to address current achievement gaps, these positive student outcomes will only improve.” - Nancy L. Zimpher, Chancellor, The State University of New York
     
  • “We are pleased and encouraged by the test results released today. In a knowledge-based global economy, a highly educated workforce is a critical competitive advantage to a region and country. High standards are essential and the results achieved thus far, as measured by the indicators reported today, represent important progress that should serve as further incentive for educators, parents, students, and policymakers. At the end of the day, students will be in much better position to take full advantage of the educational opportunities at universities such as CUNY if the achievement levels in the early grades through high school substantially improve. For our part, we are committed to continuing to partner with schools to provide effective teacher and staff preparation and to conduct significant research. We join with our colleagues in thanking all those who contributed to the successes thus far, while recognizing the importance of making additional gains in the future.” - James B. Milliken, Chancellor, The City University of New York
     
  • “The new, more rigorous standards will help ensure that students are appropriately prepared to meet the demands of the 21st century economy.  The skills gap must be addressed on the state and national level if we want to remain competitive in the global arena.” - Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., President and CEO, The Business Council of New York State
     
  • "The state of New York has been a leader in raising standards. We’ve worked with NYSED since 2009 to support the state in making necessary shifts, for example using text evidence in reading and prioritizing arithmetic within elementary grades math. We know that not enough students in this country are on track for success in college and careers—assessments show us what’s working and what isn’t. New York is helping educators understand the work that lies ahead to help ensure that New York students are college- and career-ready." - Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba, Founding Partners of Student Achievement Partners, Contributing Authors of the Common Core
     
  • “The teachers of mathematics, their students and parents are very fortunate.  Based on a review of the New York State 2014 released mathematics assessment items for grades 3 to 8 in, one finds many elements that everyone should expect and welcome in a high-quality assessment of mathematical skills, concepts and applications.” - Steven Leinwand, American Institutes for Research (Washington, DC), Principal Research Analyst
     
  • "Our teachers really worked incredibly hard. They took time as grade teams to unpack the modules. They decided collaboratively what they needed to cut as well as augment in order to adapt the modules to fit the needs of our students.  We partnered with another district in this work and teachers saw great value in the opportunity to work together, share ideas and strategies, and problem-solve around challenges with pacing.  They saw the work as valuable and through collaboration they accomplished a seemingly overwhelming task.  We believe in professional learning communities, collaborative teams, embedded professional development led by teacher leaders.  We have partnered with a neighboring district and with our BOCES in an effort to ensure the success of every student.  This year we'll be even more informed about the decisions we need to make with regard to curriculum and instruction.  Our teachers are able to tell the teachers who will serve their students next - what these kids know and where they continue to struggle. Our 4th grade teachers are now able to say to our 5th grade teachers, 'Here is what is surprising me about what these kids can now do!  I've never known entering 5th graders who could do this before'. Probably most importantly, this work took place while still providing a positive learning environment and incredible opportunities for our students both in and outside of the classroom." - Jason A. Andrews, Superintendent, Windsor Central School District
     
  • “Over the last two years, our staff has truly bought into the Common Core shifts. In fact, our teachers have made the Common Core come alive in their classrooms. In past years, ELA was the responsibility of the classroom teacher. Today the entire school has embraced this responsibility -- the greater good for all children. It has become a truly collaborative effort by all. Additionally, our teachers have worked in vertically aligned teams and focused their efforts on text based evidence, vocabulary, and making meaning out of complex questions. Again, ELA was an overall building focus.” – Charles Murphy, Superintendent, Island Trees Union Free School District
     
  • “We were hoping for better results to reinforce all of the hard work our teachers have done around Common Core implementation. Our teachers are getting better at ensuring our students do the tough work in our classrooms each day. This means supporting our teachers who are getting better at letting kids do the analysis when they are reading. I think implementing the modules in and of itself is not enough. We have to really change how we do our work and that is going to happen by ensuring our leaders and teachers continue to work collaboratively, learn from the test results and reach our goals for this coming school year.” - Paul Casciano, Ed.D, Superintendent, William Floyd School District
     
  • “Our gains in student achievement speak to the hard work of our Milton Terrace North teachers who have worked tirelessly in our classrooms every day to help our students achieve higher standards. Our entire school community has worked extremely hard to provide our students with an exceptional instructional program, social emotional supports, and strong home-school connections. We are excited to see the continued academic growth of our students and we remain committed to our focus on the progress of every child.” - Kathleen Chaucer, Principal, Milton Terrace North Elementary School, Ballston Spa School District
     
  • “In the past year, where we've been using the modules and where we've been aligning our practice, we are seeing things work for our students. We're not even close to where we need or want to be, but we believe in our hearts and souls we are headed in the right direction. As hard as we're working at it, parents, teachers, students, and administrators will still be concerned about the time that genuine growth requires.  We’re moving forward with the idea that our students can and will achieve and our job is to be keep spirits high and provide teachers, parents, and students with both the tools and confidence to achieve.” - David Bennardo, Superintendent, South Huntington School District
     
  • "We are a learning community and so we will dig into the data to see what we can learn from it.  It will take time.  I am disappointed in the overall ELA results and wonder what the impact the opt-out has on the results; however we will not make excuses.  We have seen growth in our instructional spaces as a result of our focus on Common Core.  There is still work to be done.  This is serious work. I have to ask myself, 'Do I want to make the future different or not?'   This may be difficult, but we must - for our students- press on." - Lorna Lewis, Superintendent, Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District
     
  •  “We are intentional about meeting as a leadership team. We are getting synchronized as a district. We are in this boat as a team. We know we need to learn together and work towards solving our most complex challenges. Right now, literacy across the curriculum is our greatest challenge and we are using learning walks, professional development and constant conversation to get us where we need to be. We know our students can reach the higher standards that the Common Core demands. We are just now beginning to see the changes in academics.” - Nicole Williams, Superintendent, Poughkeepsie City School District
     
  • “I am extremely proud of our teachers, administrators, and parents for their work in implementing the new Common Core State Standards for our students. While change is never easy, and while we did have our share of resistance from some, we are pleased that our resolve to remain steadfast in our commitment to quality instruction has been borne out in the New York State Education Department’s recently released student growth data for our district.” - Louis De Angelo, Superintendent, East Meadow Union Free School District
     
  • "We've really, really focused on supporting our teachers with professional development opportunities that are consistent throughout the district.  One thing that stuck w/ me from the feedback of our Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness review for our district's Focus status was that we didn't yet have enough consistency in our district wide systems.  We needed to focus on our systems. One mechanism for doing this was to create opportunities for teacher collaboration through monthly grade level meetings in our elementary schools.  In our secondary schools, we have implemented professional learning communities.  These meetings include teachers and administrators from across the district getting together to plan, collaborate, and produce items that they can use in the classroom.  We have also created enhanced opportunities for administrators to collaborate through monthly meetings and professional development.  Internal district mobility is less of an issue for us now because of the consistency of program and instruction we are able to provide our students and families.  We know that our kids need to hit the ground running no matter what school they are in.  Our teachers are a very collaborative group and have done an excellent job of supporting one another through the leadership of their Administrative teams.  As a district, we have both adopted and adapted the use of the modules.  Our work will continue next year as we dig deeper into our data and broaden our opportunities to support teachers and administrators." – Hilary Austin, Superintendent, Elmira City Schools

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