New York is the second state to test students under the new Common Core standards, which require more writing, critical thinking and problem-solving. In the first results, students scores plummeted.
Back in April, when the New York State United Teachers thought Common Core testing was a risky experiment, the union launched an unsuccessful attempt to stop the exams from being given. NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi said then that challenges were in store for both teachers and students and that schools weren't prepared to teach to the new standards.
Iannuzzi's fears have come home to roost: the percentage of New York City students scoring proficient dropped by more than half from last year when students took a different set of tests.
Another example: official data for language arts released by the state of New York show in 31 percent of public school students scored proficient, down from about 55 percent in 2012 and 77 percent in 2009, when the state tests were easier.
Is the state setting kids up to fail? Under the new Common Core, academic proficinecy scores in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo were down to single digits. Billy Easton, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education, points out that test scores dropped much more dramatically in schools with high rates of poverty where school funding is significantly lower.
"The plunge in student test scores reveals, yet again, the growing opportunity gap in this state between the haves and the have nots," said Easton. "The moral compass of this state has been clouded not only by the test obsession but also by the complete neglect of some students in this state. Albany needs to stop spinning the tired mantra that money does not matter because there is a very close correlation between how far test scores dropped and funding levels—the more underfunded the district, the more dramatic the drop.”
The American Federation of Teachers says the New York results should serve as a "national wake-up call" about the dangers of a test-focused education system. New York State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, a Democrat from the 46th district, remarked that teachers, parents, students and administrators need to work together to bring up New York's Common Core passing grade.
Speaking at a press conference, New York State Commissioner of Education John King said the scores should not be seen as a reflection on districts, schools, and teachers, but a new "baseline" to measure students' college- and career-readiness going forward.
Democratic New York State Assemblymember Patricia Fahy of the Capital District says there is much more at stake.
Here's a link to the Common Core Grade 3 test - (in a downloadable, printable PDF format file) - take it yourself!