WPCNR Afternoon Tribune. By John F. Bailey, April 10, 2002. 4 PM EDT: White Plains Schools State Assessment results from 2001 were given perspective by the School District Research, Testing and Evaluation Administrator, Lawrence Killian, and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, JoAnna Maccario Monday at the Board of Education regular meeting before about fifty persons.
White Plains 4th grade students are scoring higher than students in school districts comparable to White Plains in income, population and ethnic mix.
African-American and Hispanic children lag substantially behind their white and Asian contemporaries. However, progress is being made on assessment performance.
HOW ARE WE DOING? Research, Testing and Evaluation Administrator, Lawrence Killian addresses the Board of Education Monday evening, delivering the City School District “Assessment of the Assessments.”Photo by WPCNR
In the first public comment on the test scores released by the state two weeks ago, the district’s testing and curriculum tag team dissected the results in a series of revealing comparison graphs for the 4th grade, 8th grade and high school performances.
Dr. Saul Yanofsky, Superintendent of Schools, prefaced the Killian-Maccario presentation, cautioning that the test results are looked at by his administrators as a means of identifying areas of performance the district needs to improve upon, then turned over the floor to Mr. Killian.
Understanding the “Comparison to Similar Schools” Analogy
Killian’s first charts drew comparisons between White Plains and those school districts the state considers “comparable” to White Plains.
Killian said the city’s elementary schools are measured against 208 “similar schools” across the state, 22 of them in Westchester County. Killian named Elmsford, Greenburgh, New Rochelle, Ossining, Port Chester and Tarrytown as the “similar schools” within the County.
The Middle School test results are looked at by the state in comparison with 53 other middle schools, which include schools in three Westchester districts: New Rochelle, Ossining and Port Chester.
White Plains High School is matched up to 62 other schools, including Elmsford, Greenburgh, New Rochelle, Ossining, Port Chester, and Tarrytown.
City Resources/Ethnic Mix Considered
Killian remarked that the “similar schools” match White Plains in terms of resources. The School Report Cards Highlights and Summary Report (obtainable at the Board of Education Offices, 5 Homeside Lane, 422-2000) distributed at Monday evening’s meeting, describes the state analysis of White Plains.
According to this report, the state considers White Plains “to have only average resources, relative to our students’ needs,” and “the needs of our students are considered to be high, relative to the other districts in the average resource category.”
Levels 1,2,3,4 Grading Parameters
WPCNR accessed the NYS Education Department School Report Cards site to clarify what Levels 1,2,3,4 mean. According to the “Understanding Your School Report Card” section, Level 4 means “Meeting the Standards with Distinction,” and a student scoring from 85 to 100 is classified as having exceeded the standard.
Level 3 is defined as “Meeting the Standards,” and to do so, a student has to achieve a final score of 65 to 84 on the Assessment tests.
Level 2 is classified as “Not Fully Meeting the Standards,” and students scoring from 58 to 64 are classified in that category.
Level 1 is defined as “Not Meeting the Standards” and students scoring 0 to 57 are placed in that category.
4th Grade Scores on Steady Upward Trend
Killian, using a series of overhead projection slides, showed the overflow crowd the percentage of children passing the State Standards, Levels 3 and 4, and the percentage of children exceeding the standard Level 4. The results showed an upswing in student performance at the elementary level (4th grade) where 66% of the students passed the English Language Arts standard, with 21% of those students exceeding the Level 4 standard.
MOVING THE ELA BAR: This copy of the City School District Elementary 4th Grade ELA Assessment Chart, showing the cumulative score of all 475 4th graders tested, downloaded from the NYS Education Department website, shows the 1999 results in yellow, the 2000 results in blue and the 2001 results in orange. The 3-bar columns represent, left to right, the percentages scoring in Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4, respectively. Note how White Plains in three years has steadily raised the performance of their fourth grades in the Levels 3 and Level 4 columns over three years. The chart on the right side shows the comparison with all of New York State. In every case, White Plains is higher compared to “similar schools.”For a closer look at this chart, please go the the New York State Department of Education website. Photo by WPCNR.
About 100 students per elementary school.
We are dealing with small numbers here, making percentages appear large when actually they involve a handful of students. But, that does not diminish their impact. For example, the number of students taking the Assessments in ELA in the city’s five elementary schools in 2001 were: 83 (Church Street School), 118 (George Washington), 101 (Mamaroneck Avenue School), 81 (Post Road School), and 87 (Ridgeway).
Totals of students for the same five schools, were slightly different in the Mathematics assessment, 90, 121, 116, 87, and 98, respectively
Steady upward trend
Killian said that over three years, the number of 4th grade students meeting the Level 3 and 4 standards has gone up from 53% in 1999 to 66% in 2001.
In Mathematics, 4th graders did better, 74% achieving the State Standard, with 32% of those beating the Student Level 4. Over three years, Killian said this figure of those passing the standard has remained steady, 74% up from 72%.
CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT 4TH GRADE CUMULATIVE MATH STANDING: Here is the NYS Education Department graph showing Math progress from 1999 to 2001. The White Plains results are on the left half, the state similar scores are on the right. Again, the groups of three bars represent 1999 results in yellow, 2000 results in blue, 2001 in orange. The Levels are, left to right, Level 1, 2,3,4. White Plains, in math, is moving more 4th graders into the Level 3 and 4 zones. Photo by WPCNR.
(To view the results in terms of numbers, and year-to-year progress, click on our “White Plains Links” headline on the upper left of this page, Click on “Schools,” when the links page comes up, and from the “Schools” Section CLICK ON the “School Report Cards” site of the Department of Education.)
Lower level scorers have not diminished.
The White Plains report distributed Monday evening, identifies a steady percentage of children (less than 5%) taking the assessments in each of the last three years of 4th grades in the district remaining at the lowest level in both the ELA and Math categories. The District report describes this group thusly: “There has not been an decrease in the percent of students scoring in the lowest level,” but does not mention a percentage.
In ELA and Math results, the numbers of students in Level 1 are very small, from 2% to under 10%, and ranging from as few as 2 to as many as 16 . Level 2 placers are higher.
District Wide, 35% Do Not Meet Elementary ELA Standards; 25% Do Not Meet Math Standard.
The New York State Education Department Composite Charts of the White Plains Elementary School ELA and Math Assessment scores, show 163 of 475 students taking the test, 35% did not meet the standards in ELA and 134 of 517 students taking the Math, 26% did not meet the State Standards. However, the district is outpacing the similar schools scores where 40% did not pass the ELA standards, and 31% did not pass the Math standard.
According to District figures these students are mainly of African-American and Hispanic ethnicities.
Ebb and Flow of Elementary School Scores
In the 4th Grade English Language Arts test, three White Plains’ Elementary Schools: Church Street (72% to 65%), Mamaroneck Avenue School (74% to 65%), and Ridgeway (67% to 65%) scored higher than the similar schools of Elmsford, Greenburgh, New Rochelle, Ossining, Port Chester and Tarrytown.
Two did not. George Washington (58% to 65%) and Post Road (62% to 65%) finished slightly behind the state “similar schools” score.
On the Mathematics 4th Grade 2001 Assessment, two city schools, Church Street and Post Road, finished slightly higher than the average of the “similar schools.” Post Road School and Church Street School 4th graders had identical 79% passing to the state similar school percentage of 76%, with 41% CSS-ers beating the Level 4 standard.
Three schools were slightly lower than their similar school percentage of 76%. George Washington School and Mamaroneck Avenue School each had 73% of their 4th graders passing with 30% and 32% respectively exceeding Level 4 standards.
As to students scoring on the lowest level, the Report released Monday by the School District, again states, on the Mathematics lower level, and “There has not been a decrease in the number of students scoring in the lowest level.”
In general remarks, Mr. Killian said, “We are concerned about the kids in the lowest levels. We are going to look at the children’s work (now) and see what we can do better.”
He noted that math scores on the 4th grade level were higher than the ELA levels, and pointed out that when White Plains first took the tests in 1999, the White Plains students were ahead of statewide similar districts, 53% to 45% compared to Westchester counterparts, and 53% to 50%, pointing out that on the basis of the 2001 scores, the district continues to keep pace and maintain improvement.
Mr. Killian observed that the 4th grade and 8th grade tests change each year, and actually become more “difficult,” depending on what the State Education Department is looking to measure. He said “The state is doing a good thing by giving a new test every year. The tests become more difficult each year.”
Ethnic Chill: Half of White Plains 4th grade Blacks and Hispanics Pass ELA, 66% Pass the Math.
The test data on ethnic scores indicated, in Mr. Killian’s words, “a substantial gap between White and Asian, Black and Hispanic categories, that are similar in Math, too. There are those categories of students doing relatively well and not doing well that must be the focus of our efforts.”
This was the first public admission and quantifying provided by the School District that a “Minority Achievement Gap” is there in White Plains. The figures Mr. Killian showed provided a look at the 4th Grade Minority Achievement Gap for all to see.
White Plains White students at the 4th grade level are passing on a level of 81% compared to 74% of white students passing in “statewide similar districts.”
Black students in the 2001 4th grade were passing the ELA exam at the rate of 51%, compared to 39% of Blacks passing in the similar districts statewide. A total of 55% of the city Hispanic youngsters passed the ELA. Both White Plains ethnic groups surpassed the state average. Statewide, in similar districts to White Plains, 39% of Blacks passed, and 40% of Hispanics passed.
Turning to math, improvement, but sobering.
In the 4th Grade Math Assessment, White Plains Blacks and Hispanics performed ahead of their ELA scores, with 59% of African-Americans passing, and 67% of our Hispanic youngsters passing. Compare this to the statewide similar district scores of 46% and 49% respectively, and you have to feel the White Plains Elementary Curriculum, substantially revamped to address the influx of Hispanic youngsters and underachievers in the last three years, appears to be having an effect.
Ethnic Scores by School a sticking point
Mr. Killian’s charts on 4th Grade individual Elementary Schools highlighted definite differences between the elementary school scores.
Church Street School had 74% (highest Black performance) of Blacks passing, and 67% of Hispanics passing. In contrast, George Washington School passed 54% of their Blacks and 71% of their Hispanics. Mamaroneck Avenue School’s Blacks passed at a 59% rate, Hispanics, 64%. Ridgeway had 50% of Blacks surpassing Level 3, and 58% of their Hispanics. Post Road’s Black children passed at a 64% rate, the Hispanics at a 74% rate (top Hispanic passing rate among the five schools).
English Language Arts Scores Not as Strong.
All five elementary schools failed to have more than 58% of their Black population pass the English Language Arts. Keep in mind though that the state average is 51%.
Church Street School and Mamaroneck Avenue School each had 58% of their Blacks pass. Post Road saw 57% pass, and Ridgeway, 53%. George Washington School saw 36% of their Black student population pass.
Hispanic Population scores higher on ELA than the African-American Population.
There is a wild swing in Hispanic scores among the five schools. Church Street School passed 79% of their Hispanic 4th graders; Mamaroneck Avenue School, 70%, and Ridgeway School, 52%. Post Road School passed 32%. George Washington School passed 44% of Hispanics, below the state similar district average of 55%.
The Hispanic 4th graders as a group passed at a higher rate than the African-American 4th graders, 55% to 51% on the ELA, which is statistically insignificant and 67% to 59% on the math assessment.
Asian students in White Plains score the highest with 93% of Asian 4th graders passing the ELA Assessment in 2001, and 100% passing the Math assessment.
This is the first part of a series on the Assessment Report given Monday evening. Look for the next installment tomorrow.