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State test scores expected to drop, including in Schenectady

The Schenectady City School District will be no exception to the statewide drop in math and English Language Arts standardized tests results that will be released tomorrow.

State and federal officials began notifying school officials across the state that they shouldn't be alarmed by a sharp decrease, which comes in the first year of New York operating under the Common Core model.

"As you know, those scores are expected to be significantly lower than the 2011-12 scores," state Education Department Commissioner John King said in a memo obtained by The Daily Gazette. "This change in scores -- which will effectively create a new baseline measurement of student learning -- is largely the result of the shift to assessments that measure the Common Core Learning Standards, which more accurately reflect students’ progress toward college and career readiness."

Schenectady City School District Superintendent Larry Spring said his district will be included in the list of districts that will see a decrease. He said the drop isn't a surprise, as state officials have been warning about this possibility for weeks.

"They changed the nature of the tests to make it more rigious and raised what it takes to be proficient," he said of the changes.

New York was among the first states to align its standardized tests with the Common Core standards that 46 states have now adopted. The Common Core standards are supposed to make school curricula more rigorous to better prepare students for college and careers.

He said that the changes made it impossible to compare this year's results to recent results, a sentiment shared by King. "These tests are completely different from previous tests," Spring said. "There is no correlation."

By switching to the harder tests and with a higher bar for determining proficiency, Spring said they'll have a better handle on how proficient students actually are in math and English language arts. Regarding the changes to the tests, he said the math tests were likely made more difficult by the changes, because they included new topics.

Scores for the entire state will be released at noon tomorrow.

The lower test grades could complicate how they're used as part of the new teacher evaluation systems, but King said in his memo that the state is aware of the possible problem. "For those districts whose 2012-13 annual professional performance review plans did not anticipate the proficiency rates on the new state tests, the department is developing a methodology that could be used in the 2012-13 school year to compare rigor across the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years," he wrote.

Material from an Associated Press story was used for this post

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Memo regarding state scores

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