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SED assessment results show an increased proficiency for Schalmont students

Aug. 18, 2015

The New York State Education Department released results for the English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics assessments given to students in grades 3-8 in spring 2015 last week. Schalmont Central School District scores show growth in year-to-year and cohort-to-cohort, keeping the district on target for goals set as part of the district’s five-year strategic plan.

As in the past, students' scores on the tests are converted into a scoring range of 1 through 4 meant to indicate the degree of proficiency in the Common Core standards for the grade level. Scores at level 3-4 indicate proficiency (4 means that a student excels in the standards, while levels 1-2 indicate a student is below proficiency).

Schalmont students in grades 3-8 scored a collective 36 percent proficiency in ELA, compared to 28 percent last year, an 8 percentage point increase. The mathematics scores showed a 42 percent proficiency level for 2015, compared to 33 percent in 2014, a 9 percentage point increase. The district also scored above the New York state averages of 36 percent for ELA and 31 percent for math, as well as the Schenectady County averages of 28 percent for ELA and 32 percent for math and the Albany County averages of 34 for ELA and tied with the county’s 42 percent for math.

“We are pleased with the growth our students demonstrated this year in both ELA and math, however, we know this is only one measure of student achievement,” Schalmont Superintendent Dr. Carol Pallas said. “Collectively as educators, we are reflective of our practices in helping students achieve the Common Core Learning Standards, and we confirm our continued commitment to deliver to each student a quality education.”

Pallas said the district remains committed to providing a variety of professional development opportunities for teachers so that they can continue to deliver the level of quality education expected from Schalmont Central School District.

Effects of Test Refusal

SED also released information on the number of students who refused the state exams. According to SED, 80 percent of eligible students took the exams; 20 percent of eligible test-takers did not have “a recognized, valid reason for not participating.”

“This year, there was a significant increase in the number of students refusing the annual assessments,” Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said. “We must do more to ensure that our parents and teachers understand the value and importance of these tests for our children’s education. Our tests have been nationally recognized for providing the most honest look at how prepared our students are for future success, and we believe annual assessments are essential to ensure all students make educational progress and graduate college and career ready.”

In Schalmont, 33 percent of students refused the ELA test and 38 percent refuse the math exam.

Though the assessments do not factor into a student’s grades, they are a useful aspect in determining if a student needs additional assistance in math or ELA. They also help identify areas in which instructional strategies may need to be examined to better support students.

“When a high number of students refuse a test, it makes it difficult to get an accurate year-to-year comparison, which is vital for helping us pinpoint areas in which we can improve. This is necessary data required if we want to continue to enhance and elevate the education offered by our district and ensure students are on the path to career and college readiness,” Pallas said.

SED has said districts with a student participation rate lower than 95 percent could face potentially significant consequences under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which could include a loss Title I money for low-income students and funding for programs that fall under the School Improvement Grant, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and programs for English learners and professional development. There has been no word yet on whether Schalmont or any other district in the state is at risk of losing funding because of test refusal rates.