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District NEWS

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August 9, 2013

2012-13 test scores are released for grades 3 to 8 amid many questions

As expected, BH-BL scores are lower than before but still above state averages

 Gathered in a conference room on the morning of August 7, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school administrators and principals eagerly downloaded the just-released state-wide test score results, began searching through the 1,979 pages of data and crunching the numbers for BH-BL.

That morning, the State Education Department (SED) had posted on their website the results from English and math assessments that students in grades three through eight took in April 2013, using completely revamped state tests that, for the first time, were based on the new Common Core curriculum.

As expected -- in fact as NY State Education Commissioner John King had predicted -- the scores were much lower for the state as a whole and for BH-BL. Statewide, only 31 percent of students were deemed proficient for their grade in either English or math.

SED's goal in adopting the Common Core curriculum and the Common Core Learning Standards was to enable schools to better prepare students for success in college and careers, because they have data showing that now many NY students are graduating from high school without the skills they need to be successful.

Commissioner King emphasizes the fact that the new standards will ultimately strengthen instructional programs across the state and that the 2012-13 exams will serve as "a new baseline measurement of student learning" for schools to build on in future years.

A new BH-BL baseline

Even knowing that everything about the tests had shifted from previous years and that the new scores could not be compared to the previous year's scores, the BH-BL administrators found the drop in results distressing.

More state testing resources

"Everyone in our schools worked so hard to adapt to New York's new Common Core curriculum and to prepare for the new tests," says BH-BL assistant superintendent Dr. Rick Evans. "BH-BL has been proud to be among the highest performing districts in the region, so these results are disappointing."

Parents and professional educators across the state continue raising many questions about the new tests, what the results do and don't mean, and whether the tests should be changed.

"Moving forward, BH-BL will continue to be part of the state testing dialogue but our focus will be on supporting our own students and helping them achieve at high levels, says Evans.

Now that the first year is over, BH-BL administrators and teachers plan to dig deep into the test results and look for patterns and ways to improve instruction. In the coming year, BH-BL will continue to study the Common Core curriculum, provide more teacher training, and find ways to reduce student, parent and teacher anxiety about the tests.

"As the commissioner says, these scores do provide a new baseline for us to build upon," says Evans. "BH-BL staff and parents have high expectations for our students, and we will meet these expectations. I am confident that we will take decisive, thoughtful measures to improve student learning and achievement."

 Four proficiency levels

As in the past, the state converted students' test scores into one of four possible proficiency "levels." The goal for schools is to get as many students as possible to score in levels 3 or 4. Students who score in either level 3 or 4 are considered to have "passed" a test.

SED defines these levels as follows:

Level 4: Student excels in in the Common Core Learning Standards for this grade level.

Level 3: Student is proficient in the CCLS for this grade level.

Level 2: Student is not proficient in the CCLS for this grade level (partial but insufficient).

Level 1: Student is well below proficient in the standards for this grade level.

In the previous school year (2011-12), the percent of BH-BL students who were deemed proficient in a given grade level ranged from 63.6 percent to 89.4 percent, depending on the grade and subject.

In the new test results released this week for 2012-13, the percent of BH-BL students deemed proficient ranged from 37.3 percent to 49.2 percent, compared to state proficiency averages ranging from 27.5 percent to 34.2 percent.


 Grades 3 - 8 Results on NY State English Language Arts (ELA) and Math Assessments taken in April 2013


2012-13 New Baseline Data

Percent of grade level passing by scoring in levels 3 or 4

Grade & Test

BH-BL Scores

New York State Average Scores

Grade 3 ELA



Grade 3 Math



Grade 4 ELA



Grade 4 Math



Grade 5 ELA



Grade 5 Math



Grade 6 ELA



Grade 6 Math



Grade 7 ELA



Grade 7 Math



Grade 8 ELA



Grade 8 Math



Grades 3-8 ELA Overall



Grades 3-8 Math Overall