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News

For Immediate Release July 28, 2010

For More Information Contact:
Tom Dunn, Jonathan Burman or Jane Briggs at (518) 474-1201
Internet:  http://www.nysed.gov

Grade 3-8 Math and English Test Results Released:
Cut Scores Set to New College-Ready Proficiency Standards

The Regents recognize the urgency captured in President Obama’s State of the Union address: "In a global economy, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity - it is a pre-requisite. Three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma. I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training.  We know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow."  The Regents share this goal with the President, “to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education," and have acted to use college-readiness as the state’s Proficiency standard.

Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch and Education Commissioner David Steiner today released results from the state’s 2010 Grade 3-8 assessments in Math and English. Cut scores for these tests were set according to new Proficiency standards redefined to align them with college-ready performance. The new Proficiency standards are based on a review of research that analyzed how the grade 3-8 state tests relate to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam; how the state’s eighth grade Math and English tests relate to the Regents exams; how performance on the Regents exams relates to SAT scores; and how performance on the Regents exams relates to first-year performance in college. 

As a result of raising the bar for what it means to be proficient, many fewer students met or exceeded the new Mathematics and English Proficiency standards in 2010 than in previous years. Across Grades 3-8 statewide, the majority of students, 53% in English and 61% in Math, met or exceeded the new Proficiency standards this year.  By contrast, in 2009, 77% of students met or exceeded standards in English and 86% of students did so in Math.

"We are doing a great disservice when we say that a child is proficient when that child is not. Nowhere is this more true than among our students who are most in need. There, the failure to drill down and develop accurate assessments creates a burden that falls disproportionately on English Language Learners, students with disabilities, African-American and Hispanic young people and students in economically disadvantaged districts - who turn out to be much further behind than anyone recognized," said Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch. “The Regents and I believe these results can be a powerful tool for change. They clearly identify where we need to do more and provide real accountability to bring about the focused attention needed to implement the necessary reforms to help all of our children catch up and succeed."

"New, higher cut scores have resulted in fewer students scoring at a ‘Proficient level’," said Commissioner Steiner."While that is sobering news, it should cause all of us – the State Education Department, schools, administrators, teachers, and parents – to work ever more effectively together to ensure that all children in New York State get the knowledge and skills they need."

John King, Senior Deputy Commissioner for P-12 Education said,"These newly defined cut scores do not mean that students who were previously scoring at the Proficient standard and are now labeled Basic have learned less. Rather, the lower numbers of students meeting the Proficient standard reflects that we are setting the bar higher and we expect students, teachers, and parents to reach even higher to achieve these new targets."

The new Proficiency standards were developed based on research from the state Testing Advisory Group (TAG) and CTB/McGraw-Hill, the state’s testing contractor, to provide a clear indication to parents and schools as to whether a student was on-track for college success. The 8th grade Level 3 cut score is set at a level that offers students a 75% chance that they will score at a college-ready level (75 in English and 80 in Math) on their Regents exams in high school. The Grade 3-7 Proficiency scores are set so that a student making a year’s worth of developmental growth for Math and ELA will be on track in 8th grade to achieve a Proficiency level indicating readiness for high school work that will lead to success in college.

Results for English:

The average scale scores on the English Language Arts test this year were about the same as last year in all grades.

While 53% of Grade 3-8 students across the state met or exceeded the new ELA Proficiency standard, 14% of English Language Learners met or exceeded the new ELA Proficiency standard.  Fifteen percent of Students with Disabilities met or exceeded the new ELA Proficiency standard.

The ELA results for racial/ethnic groups across Grades 3-8 reflect the stubborn persistence of the tragic racial achievement gap. Low-need communities continued to outperform large cities and rural areas in ELA. A smaller proportion of students met or exceeded the new ELA Proficiency standard in the Big Five cities than in the rest of the state.   In New York City, 42.4% of students met or exceeded the English Proficiency standard, while in the Big 4 cities the figure was 29.1%.

Fewer than 40% of the students from economically disadvantaged districts met or exceeded the new ELA Proficiency standard.

In charter schools, 43% of students met or exceeded the new ELA Proficiency standard.

Results for Math:

The average scale scores on the Mathematics test this year were about the same as last year in all grades.  Rapid student gains from previous years leveled off.  Although there may be several possible explanations, we note that 25% to 30% more performance indicators were tested in 2010 than in 2009.

While 61% of all students met or exceeded the new Proficiency standard, 31% of English Language Learners met or exceeded the new Mathematics Proficiency standard.  For Students with Disabilities 25% met or exceeded the new Mathematics Proficiency standard.

The Mathematics results for racial/ethnic groups across Grades 3-8 reflect the stubborn persistence of the tragic racial achievement gap. Low-need communities continued to outperform large cities and rural areas in Mathematics.  A smaller proportion of students met or exceeded the Mathematics Proficiency standard in the Big Five cities than in the rest of the state.  In New York City, 54% of students met or exceeded the Mathematics Proficiency standard, while in the Big 4 cities the figure was 31.1%.

Fewer than half the students from economically disadvantaged districts met or exceeded the new Mathematics Proficiency standard.

In charter schools, 60% of students met or exceeded the new Mathematics Proficiency standard.

Background:

In order to align our Grade 3-8 assessments with a new college-readiness goal, the 2010 Math and ELA Proficiency Standard scores (Level 3) have changed from 650 where they have been set in the past to these scores:

Grade Math ELA
8 673 658
7 670 664
6 674 662
5 674 666
4 676 668
3 684 662

The Level 2 score, renamed the Basic Standard, has been set at a level that gives  students a 75% chance of earning a Regents score of 65, sufficient to earn a Regents diploma.  The 2010 Math and ELA Basic Standard scores have changed from where they have been set in the past to these scores:

Grade Math ELA
8 639 627
7 639 642
6 640 644
5 640 647
4 636 637
3 661 643

The Performance levels for students have been renamed to reflect more precisely for parents, teacher and schools whether a student is below, meeting, or exceeding the Proficiency standard. The new labels are:

Performance Level Label
Level 1 Below Standard
Level 2 Meets Basic Standard
Level 3 Meets Proficiency Standard
Level 4 Exceeds Proficiency Standard

The Board of Regents has approved greater flexibility to districts in meeting Academic Intervention Services (AIS) requirements, essentially holding districts financially harmless in 2010-11. Specifically, for the 2010-11 school year only, AIS regulations have been adjusted so that cut scores by which students are mandated to receive AIS – based on 2010 assessments – will be identical to the 2009 cut scores that required students to receive AIS.

During this transition year, Commissioner Steiner will ask the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to allow schools and districts that would have made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) had the cut scores not changed, to get credit for making AYP in 2009-10.  If approved by USED as we expect, this will significantly reduce instances where schools and districts that would have made AYP will fail to do so based on the new cut scores. 

Ensuring that student achievement information provides meaningful information about student progress is just one element of the Regents’ broader reform agenda.  The State Education Department is working to enable educators and parents to make the most of that information - for example, by developing statewide curriculum models aligned with college and career-readiness standards, and by implementing a teacher and principal evaluation system that will provide differentiated professional development.

School by school data and district by district data for all public schools in the state along with detailed breakouts of subgroups’ performance are available on the State Education Department website, www.nysed.gov.

Additional technical information used in setting the cut scores is also posted at www.nysed.gov.

 

Webcast of News Conference and Grade 3-8 Data

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New York State Board of Regents
The State Education Department / The University of the State of New York / Albany, NY 12234
Office of Communications / (518) 474-1201

Last Updated: April 14, 2011