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August 7, 2013
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JP O'Hare

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State Education Department Releases Grades 3-8 Assessment Results

State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. today released the results of the April 2013 grades 3-8 math and English Language Arts (ELA) assessments. This year's state assessments are the first for New York students to measure the Common Core Learning Standards that were adopted by the State Board of Regents in 2010. King said that, as expected, the percentage of students deemed proficient is significantly lower than in 2011-12. This change in scores – which will effectively create a new baseline of student learning – is largely the result of the shift in the assessments to measure the Common Core Standards, which more accurately reflect students' progress toward college and career readiness.

King emphasized that the results do not reflect a decrease in performance for schools or students. The new assessments are a better, more accurate tool for educators, students, and parents as they work together to address the rigorous demands of the Common Core and college and career readiness in the 21st century.

"The world has changed, the economy has changed, and what our students need to know has changed," Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said. "These scores reflect a new baseline and a new beginning. We have just finished the first year of a dramatic shift in teaching and learning. Teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards have worked extraordinarily hard to implement the Common Core. With the right tools, the right training, and continuous feedback and support, our teachers –the best teaching force in the country — will make sure all our students are prepared for college and career success in the 21st century.

"Our students face very real challenges. But it's better to have our students challenged now – when teachers and parents are there to help – than frustrated later when they start college or try to find a job and discover they are unprepared."

"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," King said. "I understand these scores are sobering for parents, teachers, and principals. It's frustrating to see our children struggle. But we can't allow ourselves to be paralyzed by frustration; we must be energized by this opportunity. The results we've announced today are not a critique of past efforts; they're a new starting point on a roadmap to future success.

"We all share the same goal: to make sure all students in New York have the skills and knowledge to be successful in college and careers. With the Common Core, we're building a ladder toward that goal; the assessment scores are a measure of where our students are on that ladder and give us a clearer, more accurate picture of the climb ahead."

King said these new results are consistent with other indicators of the college and career readiness of New York State students including the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), New York State student performance on the SAT and PSAT, and college and career ready scores on New York State's high school Regents exams.

King noted that the scores will not negatively impact district, school, principal, or teacher accountability. No new districts will be identified as Focus Districts and no new schools will be identified as Priority schools based on 2012-13 assessment results. The student growth scores used in teacher and principal evaluation result in similar proportions of educators earning each rating category (Highly Effective, etc) for student growth in 2012-13 as 2011-12. The State provided growth scores to be used in teacher and principal evaluations are based on year-to-year comparisons for similar students.

Earlier this month, King sent a memo to school district superintendents, urging them to recognize that this is the first year of the new assessments and recommending judicious and thoughtful use of each measure of the State's multiple measures evaluation system. In addition, the Department is providing guidance for districts to ensure that students are not negatively impacted by the new proficiency rates. The first cohort of students required to pass Common Core-aligned Regents exams for high school graduation will be the class of 2017. The Board of Regents has asked the Department to adjust its guidance on Academic Intervention Services (AIS) as well.

The "cut" scores used to rate students' proficiency level on a scale of 1-4 were set by a panel of 95 teachers, principals and other educators from around the state at a five-day conference in June.

Tisch and King both expressed concern that the learning gap for low income students, African-American and Hispanic students, and English Language Learners remains unacceptable.

Summary of Statewide 3-8 Exam Results:

  • 31.1% of grade 3-8 students across the State met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 31% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
  • The ELA proficiency results for race/ethnicity groups across grades 3-8 reveal the persistence of the achievement gap: only 16.1% of African-American students and 17.7% of Hispanic students met or exceeded the proficiency standard
  • 3.2% of English Language Learners (ELLs) in grades 3-8 met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 9.8% of ELLs met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
  • 5% of students with disabilities met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 7% of students with disabilities met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

Across the Big 5 city school districts, a smaller percentage of students met or exceeded the ELA and math proficiency standards than in the rest of the state:

  • In Buffalo, 11.5% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 9.6% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
  • In Yonkers, 16.4% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 14.5% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
  • In New York City, 26.4% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 29.6% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
  • In Rochester, 5.4% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 5% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
  • In Syracuse, 8.7% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 6.9% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

A summary of the test results, as well as individual school and district results, are available at:

NOTE: Attached are statements of support from educators, business leaders and stakeholder groups.

National, Regional and Field Expert Reflections on the Common Core State Standards and the 2012-13 Grade 3-8 Score Release


  • "Too many students graduate from high school unprepared for the challenges of college and work. New York has raised the bar for students with the Common Core State Standards, challenging those students to develop a deeper understanding of subject matter, learn how to think critically, and apply what they are learning to the real world. The newly released assessment scores give us a fair and honest look at the work we have to do and reflect the hard truth that students are struggling to meet these higher goals. New York has done a significant amount of work to develop a vast body of resources and tools to help principals and teachers prepare to help their students and remains committed to working with all educators and students to meet these higher goals. I applaud New York for their leadership and ensuring that students are leaving high school better prepared to succeed." Chris Minnich, Executive Director, Council of Chief State School Officers
  • "We have worked with NYSED since 2009 to support the state's transition to the Common Core. New York has been a leader in identifying the shifts demanded by these higher standards. We know that not enough students in this country are on track for success in college and careers--assessments that measure the standards will show this.Students, families, and educators in NY should now have more clarity about the work that lies ahead to ensure that all students who graduate from schools in NY are college and career ready." - Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba, Founding Principals of Student Achievement Partners (Contributing Authors of the Common Core Standards)
  • "I congratulate Commissioner King and the people of New York for recognizing the importance of equipping their children for the future and preparing them to compete in a global economy," said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. "New York has shown great leadership in raising the bar on student outcomes to the level of college- and career-readiness. I know, as has happened in Kentucky, New York educators, parents and communities will come together, stay the course and support students as they work toward mastering these more rigorous standards."–Dr. Terry Holliday, Commissioner of Education, Kentucky Department of Education


  • "Experience gives us confidence. The Common Core standards represent an unprecedented shift in our expectations for schools and the students they teach. Students who meet these new expectations will be better prepared for the demands of the world they will inherit. Over the past year, teachers and school leaders worked very hard to change instruction to match the new standards. With more time and resources, our schools will refine their practices and enable more and more students to reach the standards and surpass them – as we have when standards have been raised in the past. Overwhelmingly, superintendents see the Common Core standards as a step toward raising the quality of education in our state." – Robert J. Reidy, Jr., Ph.D., Executive Director, NYS Council of School Superintendent
  • "These test results reflect student achievement using the national Common Core standards and represent a starting point to help us better prepare students for college or the workforce. The challenge for all of us now is to use this information to inform instruction, target remediation efforts and improve teaching. School boards are committed to helping each student achieve greater academic success, measured by fair and accurate assessments." - Timothy G.Kremer, Executive Director, New York State School Boards Association
  • "We've heard it said we're moving too fast to implement higher standards that reflect college and career readiness. That's wrong. Frankly, we're not moving fast enough. The 21st century economy is demanding the skills the Common Core Standards develop. It would be unfair to our students not to equip them with the knowledge they need to succeed in the world. We need a workforce ready to fill the jobs in the new economy. It's clear from the these results we have a lot of work to do to prepare our students for their future, but the Common Core will help us get there. A workforce that is well-prepared is an essential element of the vibrant business climate that The Business Council and my fellow New York business leaders are striving to create." - Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO, The Business Council of New York State, Inc.
  • "Results on this year's grades 3-8 State English and math tests may suggest that the tests were tougher than in the past but we must recognize that they were designed to measure learning differently than in the past. We can't view a drop in scores as indicative of diminished student capability or ineffective instruction. The outcomes should instead provide a basis from which to build instruction and support for the new model -- to better inform both parents and teachers of where students are and what is needed to enhance their abilities to not only learn but to integrate and apply knowledge that will better prepare them for college and career." - Lana Ajemian, President, NYS Parent Teachers Association
  • "We understand that graduating students college and career ready is essential to the economic future of our cities. In fact, the best economic development tool is a strong educational system. The Common Core Standards coupled with essential resources and supports provide a road map to a brighter tomorrow for our students, our cities, and our state. In this very difficult time of implementing new curricula and of transitioning to a new testing regime, we applaud the Commissioner's mission to raise the level of learning for children in all schools throughout the state."–Robert Biggerstaff, Executive Director, Conference for Small Cities

Superintendents and District Leaders

  • "These results show what we expected--we have a lot of work ahead as a State and district. In Syracuse, we know that we must continue to support our teachers with Common Core professional development, resources and tools. And we will use the new baseline set today to further refine supports for our students, placing them on the road to success. We must maintain high standards and expectations ensuring all of our students are prepared for college and careers. – Dr. Sharon Contreras, Superintendent of Schools, Syracuse City School District
  • "The results of this year's assessments create a new baseline for measuring student achievement and progress. The question for educators and parents is not how theses scores compare to past assessments. It's whether we have the instructional resources and supports in place to grow from this baseline rapidly. I am confident that we are creating a sense of urgency to implement the changes necessary to improve student achievement as we move forward, such as giving our teachers and students more time and support." - said Dr. Bolgen Vargas, Superintendent of Schools for the Rochester City School District.
  • "The latest test scores are new benchmarks, based on a collaborative effort to ensure each child is, indeed, college ready. Educators should not look at the test scores as something negative; we should embrace them as a new starting point. The increased rigor of the Common Core, coupled with the introduction of the new standards, have had an impact on the scores. Before the assessments were given, we were all alerted -- parents and staff -- that the scores would be lower. But now we have a road map to help every student in Yonkers prepare for the future." - Bernard P. Pierorazio, Superintendent, Yonkers Public Schools
  • "Our staff members have adjusted our curriculum to better align with these new standards and will continue to do so based upon the assessment results. We are proud to have such a dedicated and excellent staff. Any decrease in student scores should not be interpreted as a decline in student learning or teacher performance. Instead, we view this as a new baseline for the skills students need to be successful after high school. Our society needs citizens well-versed in critical thinking and problem solving – which are stressed in the new standards. While these skill sets have always been incorporated into our curriculums, the changes we have made will better prepare our students for the ever-changing world that awaits them." - Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District Superintendent Corliss Kaiser.
  • "We knew that our scores were going to look different. The common core is requiring students to learn differently because their future is different than the world we faced when we graduated from high school. This is a baseline for students and teachers. Our challenge is to have confidence in our teachers and support them as they continue to make the shift to these standards. This new baseline measure is not a reflection of our students learning less; in many instances they learned more and challenged themselves differently. our teachers have is a real sense of purpose, an ownership of the work, and a clear direction about what comes next. The modules on are providing our teachers with clarity about what is expected and they know what they need to do to move their students forward." – Adele Bovard, Superintendent of Schools, Webster Central School District
  • "Today is Day 1 in our journey to reach new learning standards for students, staff, parents and truly the community as a whole. We need our students to be career and college ready so they can access the bounty found in the 21st Century. As with any journey, you need a beginning point and the release of the scores today, which are steeped with Common Core Standards for the first time, represents the start of something that will lead to a better world of opportunities for the students of today and a richer world economically and culturally for society tomorrow." – Neil O'Brein, Superintendent, Port Byron Central Schools
  • "The key point is to recognize that no one should be surprised or confused. The scores create a new baseline. This lets us know what we have to do moving forward. Our teachers have worked harder in the last 12 months than they ever have in their lives. These scores are hard to see after all of that hard work, but we have to understand that this is a marathon, not a sprint. We have to keep working towards our goal which is to prepare our kids for the world they're entering. I watched my staff work so hard this year. Everyone is showing up. Everyone wants to be here. This is a powerful time right now. Our teachers want to be successful at this. We are even working hard this summer so that we are ready for our kids when they return in the fall. This is going to be a good and important year for our students." – Mike Ford, Superintendent, Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District
  • "We have been working to implement the Common Core and we can only grow from here. We were prepared for scores to be lower knowing that this is a new benchmark year. As we approach the upcoming school year we will have more information in order to better prepare our teachers and students. Our teachers have been working hard and we know where we need to place our efforts." – Eva Demyen, Superintendent of Schools, Deer Park School District
  • "We must challenge our students differently than we have in the past. The Common Core represents a necessary and dramatic shift that strengthens both the call and the case for rigor. These standards focus our attention on learning targets that systematically integrate skills in reading, literacy, writing, and higher order thinking. I'm excited about the doors that will be opened by the new standards for my child and every student that has the good fortune of living in a state that made the decision to adopt them." – Constance Evelyn, Superintendent, Auburn Enlarged School District
  • "My job is to support my teachers. We have teachers who are leaders in our district and they are helping us to understand what we need to do to get this done. We feel good about it. No one district can do this on its own and we have a strong partner in our BOCES. I feel good about what we are going to continue to accomplish. We are about moving forward and getting done what must get done." – Carlos Sanchez, Director, Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Port Chester Public Schools