The newly released results of New York’s grades 3-8 math and English language arts (ELA) tests are good news for Massena Central School—student achievement is rising.
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) released the preliminary data on Thursday, July 19. The report includes only the combined performance of all students in each grade and does not break the results down into smaller subgroups such as students with disabilities or various ethnic and racial groups. The complete data will be a part of the official school report card scheduled for release later in the year.
According to 2011-12 testing results, Massena Central School, overall, has shown a steady improvement in grades 3-8 math and ELA assessments from 2010-11. The results show a growing percentage of students achieving at higher levels.
“I’m very pleased with the results. Last year our teachers were surprised by changes in the new state tests. This year we were better prepared for it. We spent the year making sure our curriculum matched the new state standards; we adjusted our tests so they look more like the state tests and looked carefully at whether we were teaching the material too quickly or too slowly,” said Director of Curriculum, Sarah Boyce.
“We implemented several different programs to provide extra help for struggling students, especially in grades 4-8. The last two years, we have given teachers more time to work with their colleagues to find the best methods for helping their students meet these new standards. Last year we focused on the math. That effort seems to have paid off.
“This year we will focus on the writing curriculum. We have already spent time over the summer on the writing curriculum and expect positive results from what we accomplished.”
The news was not all good, however. Student performance declined slightly in fifth grade math and eighth grade ELA.
Improving those results is the next challenge. Ms. Boyce plans to more closely monitor individual students to better ensure the school is meeting their educational needs and to re-emphasize the programs that the district has seen yield positive results.
The District tested two promising programs last year, one at Nightengale Elementary and the second at Jefferson Elementary. Students in those programs made significant progress.
Nightengale Elementary introduced “Learning Communities” in the sixth grade. This program is designed to help students with reading difficulties. Over a six-week rotation, students met with different teachers who focused on specific reading skills.
Jefferson Elementary piloted a program to teach test taking skills to student who have struggled in the past on New York State tests.
Both groups showed improvement, so much so that the district will expand those programs to the other schools.
Superintendent Roger B. Clough II praised his staff for the results.
“What we learned is that our teachers are doing a great job and that generally, the kids are doing better. The improvement demonstrates that our teachers are working hard and will continue to improve our students’ progress. We still have some work to do, but we’ve got a great team to work with,” said Mr. Clough.