N early a quarter of last year’s third grade class did not meet the minimum standards on the state’s math and English assessment exams.
Last month, the New York State Department of Education released the results from May’s English Language Arts (ELA) and Math assessment exams, given annually to students in grades three through eight.
Statewide, a majority of students met or exceeded the state’s proficiency standards in both math and English but overall performance remains low.
According to the data released by the state, nearly 53 percent of students in grades three through eight met or exceeded proficiency standards in English and 63 percent met or exceeded standards in math.
While Whitehall fared well in some areas, they did poorly in others.
Among third grade students, approximately 25 percent fell below the basic standards on the English and math exams. And while scores for third grade students throughout the area were low, Whitehall fared worse than other schools in the area.
Their mean score of 654 on the English exam was among the worse in the area. Fort Ann, Granville, Warrensburg, Argyle, Fort Edward, Hartford, Salem and Cambridge all scored better than Whitehall. The mean score on the math test was also among the lowest in the area.
Not a single third grade student exceeded the state proficiency standards (level 4) in either math or English.
And while the fourth grade class fared better than the third graders, the results were still lower than other local schools.
“We were not happy with them (test results),” elementary principal David St. Germain said. “Up until last year, we were improving every year and then the state changed the test and the standards. (The results) would have improved again this year if they hadn’t changed.”
Students in the Junior-Senior High School performed slightly better than students in the elementary school.
Scores for seventh and eighth grade students on both exams were at least comparable to other schools in the region.
Nearly 56 percent of eighth grade students met proficiency standards on the English exam and three percent exceeded standards. The rest at least met basic standards and not a single student fell below standards. Only four percent of seventh grade students failed to meet basic standards.
On the math exam, 54 percent of eighth students met or exceed proficiency standards while 62 percent of seventh graders did the same.
By contrast only 42 percent of eighth graders and 45 percent of seventh graders at Fort Ann achieved the same standards.
St. Germain noted that some of the issues at Whitehall were part of a bigger “statewide issue.”
Across New York State, only 3.5 percent of students in grades three to eight exceeded proficiency standards (level 4).
Part of that is because exams were harder this year. St. Germain said students were asked to answer more questions in less time.
The state also raised the scores needed to meet the same standards after they found that some students were ill-prepared for college.
This can be problematic because teachers will focus their efforts on creating a lesson plan that will help students reach these standards and then the standards change.
The changes resulted in a nearly seven percent drop among students statewide in grades 3-8 who exceeded proficiency standards on the English exam.
St. Germain said they have made adjustments to the way they prepare students for the exam and he expects students to fare better next year.