Common Core test stumps students

The results of the new Common Core state-issued standardized tests are in – and they’re not that pretty.

Citywide, students in grades three through eight scored an average of 296 on the math exam and an average of 294 on the English Language Arts (ELA) test. The borough-wide average mirrored the city average closely, with 295.8 on the math exam and 293.6 on the ELA test.

This is the first time students have taken a test such as this, which was much more rigorous than usual. The tests aim to prepare students better for college and career, and are supported by the Obama administration.

“New York is taking the right step forward in giving our children a true college and career-ready education,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Today’s scores are a reflection of more rigorous expectations and higher standards as the assessments are now aligned to mark and measure what it truly takes to prepare students to succeed in our global economy.

“This shift in standards gives teachers room to implement innovative techniques, and gives students an opportunity to emphasize problem-solving and critical thinking,” he went on, stressing, “But none of this will happen overnight. Shifting to college and career ready standards is a long-term investment that will pay off in the years and decades to come.”

On the math test, District 20 – which encompasses Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, parts of Bensonhurst and Sunset Park – fared the best in Brooklyn, with an average of 314 points on the math exam. Neighboring District 21, which includes schools in parts of Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach, came in at a close second with students scoring an average of 311 points on the math exam.

Looking at the flip side, students in District 16, which encompasses Bedford-Stuyvesant, scored the worst on the math exam, with an average score of 281. Students in District 19, which included the neighborhood of East New York, were not far ahead, scoring an average 284.

On the ELA exam, students in District 15, which encompasses Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and parts of Fort Greene and Boerum Hill scored the best, with an average score of 305. District 21 and 20 were right behind them, averaging a score of 304 and 303 respectively.

Two districts tied for the worst score of 283, District 16 and 23, which serve Brownsville, Ocean Hill and parts of East New York.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said that the lower grades were expected and were no cause for alarm.

“We are confident that they will rise to this challenge – and it’s encouraging that our students are out-performing their peers in the other cities around the state,” Bloomberg contended. “In addition, they are closing the gap with students in the rest of the state, something few people thought possible a decade ago.  The new Common Core curriculum, as it is phased in, will empower students to achieve at higher levels in the years ahead and graduate high school ready for college and careers.”

Walcott added, “We have known for over a year that a higher bar would initially mean lower scores.

“But this change is important, and students, teachers and schools will not be penalized by the transition,” he said. “With an unprecedented amount of support being provided, I have full confidence that schools will effectively take on this challenge and students will reach this higher bar, as they have many times before.”

The Common Core curriculum will continue to be rolled out in schools citywide during the upcoming school year.

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