Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Officials: Harder State Tests Will Lead To Lower Test Scores For City Students

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As elementary and middle school students get ready to take new, more difficult state tests next week parents and educators say they are worried about what the results will be. NY1's Lindsey Christ has the story.

Education officials usually talk about setting high expectations but this week, it's been all about establishing low expectations.

In a series of school tours, parent meetings, press briefings and interviews the message is 'don't be surprised when test scores plummet this year.'

"We do expect that there'll be a lower percentage of students who perform at the proficient or advanced level," State Education Commissioner John King said.

Test scores will almost certainly decrease because the tests are getting much harder.

For the first time, exams will be based on a set of national learning standards called the Common Core.

While city and state officials want expectations low for the results of this year's tests, they say it's because they have finally raised the bar on what students need to know.

"This is to prepare our students for future success, and that's the overall goal and that's why we are here today," schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said. "That's why we will be going around to a number of places, talking about the importance of the test, trying to lower the anxiety."

Teachers' union President Michael Mulgrew said the stakes couldn't be higher.

"Everything in New York City is about the test. This administration has made promotional criteria, gifted and talented programs, specialized programs, specialized high schools, only about the test," Mulgrew said.

Nobody knows how much scores will decrease, but King has begun suggesting that the number of students deemed proficient could drop by 20 to 30 percent. He says the new tests will be more in line with a national exam, known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

According to NAEP, only 35 percent of New York State 4th graders are proficient in reading and only 36 percent are proficient in math.

On last year's state tests, 59 percent of 4th graders were judged proficient in reading and 69 percent in math.

It's a big change, one that parents and teachers worry that schools and students aren't ready for.

"We are apprehensive," said P.S. 115 teacher Nerland Jeanniton. "We hope and pray that we've done enough to prepare our students for the test and that they will do well." ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP