WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. News & Comment By John F. Bailey. August 19, 2014:
The state Education leaders said last week in a press release:
“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”
“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.”
Commissioner of Education, John King said:
“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.”
I repeat these quotes because they are worth referring back to when you read what follows.
The school districts in Westchester County that have a largely white student body and an affluent population are adjusting to the Common Core Assessments. You’ve got 50% to 75% of students in these districts with white majority students bodies meeting 8th Grade ELA and 8th Grade Math Passing Levels on the 2014 Common Core Assessment tests.
I choose to write about 8th Grade ELA and Math results because this is 8 years of education and if they are not ready for high school they are not going to be changed much. Their die is cast. Their future unless high school teachers can pull a miracle is bleak if they are not ready.
The districts in the county that have a majority of African-American and Latino students, unlike the districts that have a white majortiy are simply not adjusting at all to the standards if you look at the results.
Incremental increases on low scores to begin with is not progress. Small progress. Insignificant progress. And when you see the raw scores that achieve passing results, it puts the results in a very troubling light in my opinion.
At the rate of improvement ballyhooed by the State Education Department last week (see quotes above), it will take another ten years maybe to get minority-dominant school districts to passing status, and that is just a guess. Is less than one-third of students across the state passing good?
The State Education Department thinks so.
The White Plains City School District two years ago had 53% Hispanic Students, 15% Black and 27% White. The Hispanic percentage has gone up slightly.
In last spring’s tests 32% of 8th Graders passed the English Language Assessment, that grade is now going into high school this fall. Math, 13% passed.
I want to repeat that paragraph:
In White Plains City School District 32% of 8th Graders passed the English Language Assessment, that grade is now going into high school this fall. Math, 13% passed.
The White Plains City School District 3rd to 5th grade passing scores averaged 41% passing in Math, in ELA, 41% passed. That says to me they are not getting reading and writing and computing by they time they hit middle school. (Sixth Grade).
In White Plains as a whole, Grades 3 to 8 saw 163 less students pass the second year of these tests over all 6 Grades Tested.
New Rochelle is comparable to White Plains results and composition of student body:.
In New Ro, 42% of students are Hispanic 23% Black, and 30% White as of two years ago.
In the 2014 assessments, 35% of New Ro 8th graders passed the ELA and 33% passed math. In the lower grades, 3rd to 5th graders averaged 32% Passing ELA and 42% on the Math.
Do we see a pattern here?
Port Chester-Rye,( heavily Hispanic), just two years ago was previously held as a model for educating Latino students: the district had 74% Latino students, 7 % Black and 17% White back then.
The Port Chester Rye students simply could not cope with the 2014 Assessments, 15% of Port Chester-Rye students passed 8th Grade ELA, 2% (that is not a misprint) passed 8th Grade Math. In the 3,4,5 grades they averaged 15% Passing ELA, 23%. My God, is all I can say and my heart goes out to those parents in that district.
In the Tarrytowns, with a heavy Latino population, 36% passed 8th Grade English and Math.
In Greenburgh, A heavy minority district, 35% Passed 8th Grade ELA, and 34% 8th Grade Math.
Mount Vernon, Yonkers, Ossining also with high minority populations performed similarly or worse.
But how did white majority student districts do?
In Scarsdale, 75% passed 8th Grade English. 59% 8th Grade Math.
Harrison: 45% Passed 8th Grade English; 73%. 8th Math
Chappaqua: 65% Passed 8th Grade English, 81% 8th Grade Math.
Mt. Pleasant, 48% Passed 8th Grade ELA; 21% Math.
Pleasantville, 70% Passed 8th Grade ELA AND MATH
Mamaroneck Union Free School District, is notable for having a 42% Minority and 47% white population and passing 64% of their students on 8th Grade ELA and 33% on 8th Grade Math.
This is a random sampling, but in Westchester County as a whole, the average passing rate for 8th Grade ELA was 35% and 34% in 8th Grade math.
I have been reporting on Education from the White Plains School District perspective for 15 years. I have seen what the state has had to say. All the state results. The hand-wringing on the achievement gap,( now an academic galactic gap), I have heard all the excuses. I have seen the solutions that have not worked.
The Common Core Assessments show that. They show no progress.
The bottom line on August 19, 2014, almost 15 years later is we have lost a decade of thousands of students.
We have not taught them how to read, write, or compute mathematics well, or at the very least a work ethic. We have hurt them irretrievably
We have not taught them respect for learning. That learning, real learning is work. It is not fun.
In contrast, there’s a little school in Brooklyn, Public School 321 in Park Slope Brooklyn, which teaches just Grades 3,4,5 and has been run for 27 years by Principal Elizabeth Phillips, whom WPCNR interviewed in May had far more successful results in grades 3,4,5.
William Penn has a school enrollment as of 2 years ago of 72% white, 8% Black, 9% Latino and 7% Asian.
In downtown Brooklyn, New York USA, her William Penn School saw 83% of its 5th graders pass 5th Grade ELA, and 80% Pass 5th Grade Math in 2014. Contrast that with 6th grader results in our Westchester districts. In White Plains in 5th Grade 34% Passed 5th Grade ELA and 46% passed Math. William Penn 5th Graders outperformed Scarsdale, Pleasantville, Chappaqua and just edged Mamaroneck on the 5th Grade levels.
Why isn’t the state looking at how this school teaches its minority students, and its white students? They get the Common Core at 10 years of age more than our students going into high school at 14. Why? It’s not all race balance.
The State Education Department should go and look and work with Principals like Ms. Phillips and her outstanding faculty. Once again Little P.S. 321 in Brooklyn shows the state how to teach and learn the Common Core and test successfully, with no help from the state Common Core materials which as we all know arrived too late and behind schedule.
It makes you wonder if the education department and the Board of Regents don’t want what works, they just want the methods they promote to work and say they work even when they don’t.