By CAROLINE MURRAY
Recorder News Staff
The New York State Education Department recently released the results of the spring 2014 Grades 3-8 Math and English Language Arts assessments for the 2013-14 school year.
Although some progress was made in both the math and ELA scores statewide, local superintendents are already formulating plans to help improve students' scores for next year.
"There are pockets of improvement and small amounts of improvement, but overall we have a great deal of work to do," Fonda-Fultonville Central School District Superintendent Ray Colucciello said.
According to department data, the majority of Fonda-Fultonville students scored a Level 2 on the math assessment, with the exception of third and fifth graders. Forty-five percent of 128 third-graders scored a Level 3, and 47 percent of 112 fifth-grade students scored a Level 1 .
For the ELA assessment, the majority of all grades scored a Level 2, with the exception of fifth grade. According to official test results, 51 percent of 111 students scored a Level 1.
Colucciello said there was a small amount of progress made since last year's assessment exams, but the district still has a long way to go.
"Again, we have made pockets of progress," He said.
He believes staff are working hard to improve their students assessment grades, but would like to see an increase in the number of students who score a Level 3 or 4.
In order to ensure better scores at the middle school level, Colucciello said Fonda-Fultonville 5-8 School is implementing a new curriculum this year, that would increase the instructional time for both math and ELA each day.
"So the instructional time will increase significantly over the year in those two subject areas," he said.
At the Greater Amsterdam School District, Superintendent Thomas Perillo said the staff is still sorting through the scores, but did see a decrease in the number of students who scored a Level 1 in both math and ELA, compared to last year.
Additionally, he said the William B. Tecler Arts in Education school showed marked gains across all grade levels.
"That is a priority school and that is a pretty big accomplishment for us up there," he said.
According to the department's data, the majority of students grades 3-8 scored a Level 1 on the math assessment.
For the ELA assessment, the majority of students in grades 3-8 scored a Level 1, with the exception of grade 8. According to the test results, 40 percent of 253 eighth grades scored a Level 2.
Very few students scored a Level 4 -- something Perillo said was common among other school districts.
"Basically, few students in any district really got a Level 4, and I think, that is basically what we are working toward," he said. "What we are hoping for this year is get level 2 to 3 and 3 to 4."
Perillo said the assessments are based on Common Core standards and the tests were crafted differently.
The administration and staff are already working on updating the curriculum for next year to better align with the Common Core and the assessments.
Perillo said during the summer, building administrators and teachers work on revamping their curriculum maps -- a road map the staff uses as a guideline to get their students where they want them to be.
"So when the time goes on and the curriculum adjusts and the assessment for common core comes out, our curriculum will be more closely aligned to what those assessments are," Perillo said. "We are moving in the right direction."
According to a press release, Students statewide made significant progress in math, including students in the urban, suburban and rural areas. Statewide, the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above in math rose from 31.2 to 35.8 percent across all grades combined. The percentage of students scoring at the partial proficiency level and above also rose in math, from 66.9 to 69.6 percent.
The release said students made slight progress in ELA, the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level and above rose 31.3 to 31.4 percent across all grades combined, though progress varied across the need and resource categories.
The percentage of students scoring at the partial proficiency level and above in ELA also rose slightly, from 69 to 70 percent. Gains were made by African American and Latino students, particularly in New York City.
Perillo said that although small gains were made since last year's assessment, little progress is better than no progress.
"It might not have been dramatic, but it is an improvement. We are on the right track," he said.