By Diane Phelan
Students within the Diocese of Brooklyn showed gains in the second year of the Common Core aligned math and English Language Arts (ELA) tests.
A larger percentage of students in grades four, six and eight scored proficient in both math and English Language Arts in 2014 as compared to the 2013 tests. In the spring of 2013, New York State redesigned state tests to align with the Common Core standards to determine if students were on track for college and career readiness.
Within the Diocese of Brooklyn, the percentage of students who met or exceeded the proficiency standard (scoring at Levels 3 or 4) increased in ELA as follows:
– Grade four improved from 40.1 percent in 2013 to 44.0 percent in 2014
– Grade six improved from 34.4 percent in 2013 to 35.0 percent in 2014
– Grade eight improved from 41.2 percent in 2013 to 46.0 precent in 2014
Within the Diocese of Brooklyn, the percentage of students who met or exceeded the proficiency standard (scoring at Levels 3 or 4) increased in math as follows:
– Grade four improved from 26.1 percent in 2013 to 34.0 percent in 2014
– Grade six improved from 20.1 percent in 2013 to 35.0 percent in 2014
– Grade eight improved from 18.6 percent in 2013 to 31.0 percent in 2014
Schools and academies within the Diocese of Brooklyn once again surpassed the New York City and New York State public schools in all tested grades in ELA as depicted in the comparative chart.
In math, we surpassed the New York City schools in grades six and eight. The improved scores that we have attained on the spring 2014 state tests are a reflection of the hard work, dedication and progress that students, teachers and principals have been making at the local school/academy level. Although our diocesan students made great strides in all tested grades and subjects, our largest increases were in math.
In addition, principals and teachers received instructional reports for the 2014 state tests to help understand and guide instruction and classroom assessments during the current academic year.
The state also released 50 percent of the 2014 math and ELA test questions to help teachers see the type of higher order thinking questions that students are expected to answer with the rigor and depth of knowledge needed for a student to be college and career ready.
In this writer’s opinion, state tests are still only one of many measures used to evaluate students within the Diocese of Brooklyn. To this end, schools and academies within our diocese use “multiple measures” of assessment to determine what students know and are able to do. However, the New York State tests did “raise the instructional bar” for all teachers and principals in New York State. To that end, we’re seeing improvement in state test scores within the Brooklyn Diocese and genuine academic growth for our students.
Phelan is the associate superintendent for evaluation of programs and students for the Diocese of Brooklyn.