WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. By John F. Bailey. August 9, 2018:
White Plains Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Joseph Ricca told WPCNR today the New York State Education Department announcement that scores New York State Students achieved on 2018 Assessment Tests would not be released to the public and the school districts until mid to late September was “unfortunate,” but would not affect the district’s ability to adjust curriculum to continue improving students’ performance.
Ricca said White Plains students continue to perform well and grow academically based on the district’s internal assessment outcomes; however, the raw scores sent to the district in June provide little assistance in measuring growth and planning for the next academic year.
Planning ahead, he said White Plains teachers and administrators have instead used their own benchmark testing and outcomes analysis from the end of last year (2017-18) to monitor student progress and plan for what needs to be done to prepare for the new academic year.
Asked if he was pleased with the raw scores the district was provided in June from the NYSED, he said, “we will need to learn more from the State Education Department once they ‘recalibrate’ their cut scores.”
However, he said White Plains school-based assessments indicated the elementary and middle school children (Grades 3 to 8) did very well according to district goals.
While that data was not immediately available, he said he would get WPCNR the figures the school district has determined according to the district testing and performance standards for the students in Grades 3 to 8 at the end of 2017-18
Ricca told WPCNR the district had not used the raw scores (received from the state the beginning of June) to determine new directions in the school curriculum because the raw scores did not include the cut score levels, or curve to determine what level of score passes at each of the 4,3,2, and 1 levels.
The state has the ability and can set the cut scores, which can inflate the number of students passing or failing by the determination of the cut score level.
“We have assessments (per grade) in place teachers can use to plan for our children. We don’t have to follow the state assessment scores (for guidance) and we recognize that assessments are simply one measure of student achievement,” Ricca explained.
Ricca noted that depending how the cut scores are set, the district could show marked improvement or not. He said that holding back the test scores was “unfortunate and a challenge for school district.” He noted it increased stress for students and parents alike.
“People want to know where they are.”
WPCNR notes that before the new state Common Core assessments began in 2013,replacing previous state testing, the previous tests were criticized by colleges and business for not measuring performance accurately because of students being unprepared for college and not as prepared for jobs.
In those state tests before 2013, cut scores for a passing grade could be set low by the state to give the indication more students were competent in English or Math. (Cut scores were never revealed to the public). When Common Core assessments debuted, achievement gaps for minority students compared to white students which had closed to within 10%, dropped substantially, calling into question whether the earlier assessments were scored too leniently. Not only did minority scores drop, the scores of white students plummeted, too.
The 2017-18 New York State assessments are the first tests created for the NYSED by Quesar, its new test contracter which replaced Pearson, the world wide creator of assessments, which created the previous tests reflecting Common Core standards which were criticized by parents, teachers, Superintendents and politicians.
WPCNR has contacted the New York State Council of School Superintendents for a statement on the problems, if any, caused by the State Education Depart delay in scoring the 2017-18 tests.