The Mamaroneck School Board Tuesday night discussed New York State’s decision to make standardized State tests more difficult to pass.
Here is the powerpoint presentation.
The School Board says, "Though the State has granted districts a one-year waiver in responding to this change, Mamaroneck Schools Administration says it’s proceeding with a sense of urgency to ensure that all children make steady progress."
Wednesday, the School District sent a note to parents explaining the details, saying "the numbers of students achieving proficiency standards dropped significantly in every district across the state, including Mamaroneck. As a result of a higher “cut-off” point (no longer the traditional 650 score), districts have been scrambling to understand the impact of having additional students falling into the Level 2 and Level 1 categories versus a passing score of a three or a four."
theLoop further explains in a past story here .
More from the District’s letter below:
The new State scoring system resulted in a 74% passing rate among our students on the English Language Arts test (given our results over time, we would typically expect to see a pass rate of about 90%) and a 78% pass rate on the math assessment (which, under the previous benchmarks, would yield a success rate in the 90s). Mamaroneck’s passing rate continues to exceed the County passing rate on every test and at every grade level. (Click Here to go directly to the NY State Ed Department’s relevant web pages.).
“Historically, we have chosen to compare ourselves to other districts in Westchester versus the State because of the high bar we want to set,” said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Annie Ward. “While we continue to outperform Westchester on every assessment at every grade level, we are redoubling our efforts to support the progress of students who have not yet met proficiency standards.”
State Grants Districts One-Year Waiver to Provide Services for ‘new 2’s’, but Mamaroneck Acts with Urgency to Support All Students
“First, we need to make sure we have a clear sense of what our own standards are,” said Dr. Shaps. “We need to ask ourselves, what does proficiency mean specifically to Mamaroneck since we’ve set standards higher than State proficiency levels. And then, what are we doing to support all students?”
Ward said the Administration has been working for months now to analyze the state test results, compare them with other data the District has on students (e.g., internal benchmarks, assessments and curriculum standards), and fully understand what each student needs to ensure steady progress. She said they are looking at “who these new 2s are” and how they will be supported through the District’s Academic Intervention Services (AIS) plan through a range of possible services, such as in-class support with progress monitoring, to pull-out support. Each principal was asked to develop a comprehensive AIS roster detailing services to be provided to each student who did not receive a passing grade on the state tests.
Creating Strong Safety Nets to Support Every Student
In addition to adhering to the District’s AIS plan, the District has been working to clearly define entrance and exit criteria for reading and math support; codify the Instructional Support Team (IST) process, and continue to support programs at the high school level, such as academic labs and mentoring.
“The work led by Annie Ward over the last several years has really taken fruit in terms of providing staff with the tools and resources to support each child,” added Dr. Shaps. He explained that while the State granted districts a one-year waiver in making AIS services mandatory for the ‘new 2’s’, Mamaroneck has chosen to adopt the most stringent standards in determining who qualifies for AIS services. “We feel a sense of urgency despite the State’s saying we have another year to figure out how we will help these students. Our coordinated effort has resulted in classroom teachers, AIS teachers and specialists working together to cater to the Individual Learning Plan of each student.”
New Data Analysis Tool Facilitates Differentiated Instruction
Ward presented much of the work the District has been doing to improve student learning and focus on quality instruction since the previous assessment report to the Board last March, such as continuing curriculum mapping, providing independent reaching benchmarks and refining the District’s Academic Intervention Services and Instructional Support Teams plans. She explained how Dr. Shaps, with his experience in data-driven decision making, has brought this remarkable new online data analysis tool (called Level I Tool) to the District through BOCES, enabling administrators to analyze student performance to the most granular level. Over the summer, administrators benefitted from extensive training on the system.
“Through this tool, we now can look very closely at specific questions where our students didn’t do as well, try to figure out why and then how to address these areas of weakness,” Ward said. “We’ve spent a significant amount of time poring over data during the past several months and learning how to optimize the capabilities of this tool at the district, building and classroom levels.”
Using data to inform instruction has been a key focus for the District over the past year and one of the top priority teaching goals this year as well. Now, with the District’s access to the Level I Tool, analyzing and responding to data is easier than ever before. In demonstrating how this works, Ward pointed to a specific question on the third grade math exam in which Mamaroneck students scored noticeably lower than surrounding districts. At first glance, the question seems to revolve around estimation, but when you delve a little further to see how the majority of our students responded (through Level One, you have immediate access to the students’ answers as well), it was concluded that the issue most likely really revolves around rounding. The Tool enables us to identify concepts and skills to reinforce with small groups and individuals, she said.
Ward also pointed to how the Level One Tool Data Analysis can provide us with important information on when students are strong in a particular area. She referred to a question on the Grade 7 grade math exam, where our students’ success rate was more than double that of their peers. “This question, which required a very high level of thinking, resulted in a level of performance that we are very proud of because it confirms the focus we’ve been placing on rigor and building strong critical thinking skills,” Ward said. “The ease in which we have such detailed information right at our fingertips is what’s so exciting about this new tool.”