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SED releases results from grades 3-8 assessments; scores drop statewide

Aug. 7, 2013—Earlier today, the State Education Department (SED) released results from the assessments that students in grades 3-8 took for the first time in the spring of 2013—revamped math and English Language Arts (ELA) tests that reflect the new, more rigorous Common Core Learning Standards.

As expected, the massive changes in curriculum, testing and scoring practices resulted in a significant decrease across the state in student proficiency levels compared with previous years. On average, just under half of all Guilderland Central School District students in grades 3-8 performed at or above proficiency levels. View complete results for GCSD (PDF)

However, education officials have long warned that this would be the case and strongly cautioned against comparing the 2012-2013 scores with those from previous years.

“The drop in the number of students meeting or exceeding grade-level expectations was expected,” said Guilderland Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marie Wiles. “Students, parents and teachers should not be surprised or disappointed by these scores as it will take time for curriculum and instruction to catch up with what the new tests measure.”

The state says that the scores will provide a new baseline for student performance based upon the changes taking place in classrooms across the state and the country, which includes the implementation of the new “Common Core” curriculum. New York is one of 46 states to have adopted the new Common Core Learning Standards.

Moving forward, education leaders expect to see test scores rise as teachers and students adapt to the new expectations and required shifts in teaching and learning.

Developed by education, business and state leaders from across the country, the Common Core Learning Standards were designed to better prepare students for success in college and careers. The new curriculum requires students to learn – and teachers to teach – new skills, concepts, and different ways of approaching questions and solving problems. Similarly, many concepts are now taught to students at a different time of the year or in a new grade level than in the past.

Because the instruction leading up to the tests and the tests themselves are different, state officials have said that any decrease in student scores from last year should not be interpreted as a decline in student learning or teacher performance.

“New York is far from unique as they go through this transition," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan said in a recent conference call with New York education officials. “The lower proficiency rates that we will see…do not reflect that teachers are teaching less or students are learning less,” he said.

Achievement levels redefined

Similar to previous years, students’ scores on the tests are converted into a scoring range of 1 through 4. Under the new Common Core-aligned system, New York’s students will be scored according to the following scale:
        • Level 4: Student excels in Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) for his/her grade level.
        • Level 3: Student is proficient in CCLS for his/her grade level.
        • Level 2: Student is not proficient in CCLS for the grade level (partially proficient, but insufficient).
        • Level 1: Student is well below proficient in standards for the grade level.

In the tests taken in 2012, the number of Guilderland students in a given grade level who were deemed at or above proficiency ranged from 72 percent to 86 percent, depending upon the grade and subject. Statewide, this range was between 50 percent and 69 percent.

As expected, proficiency levels for Guilderland—and districts across the state—dropped with the introduction of the more rigorous exams. In Guilderland, the students deemed at or above proficiency by grade level in 2013 ranged from 44 percent to 55 percent, depending upon the grade level and subject. Statewide, this range was between 28 and 36 percent.

Parents of students in grades 3-8 last year should expect to receive letters about their child’s individual performance on the state tests within the coming weeks. As in the past, student scores on state assessments do not factor into students’ grades.

What do the results mean for Guilderland schools?

State leaders have emphasized the fact that these new standards will ultimately strengthen instructional programs. In Guilderland, the aggregate results will be a valuable barometer of the district’s efforts to implement the new curriculum.

“Schools throughout the state are undoubtedly in a time of transition as we work to implement the new Common Core Learning Standards” said Wiles. “While there is still a lot of work to be done, you can be sure that we will continue to give our students, teachers and administrators the support they need to achieve these higher standards.”

District leaders said that while schools and parents naturally put importance on a given year’s test results, the larger purpose of education is making sure that students have the skills, knowledge, and experiences they need to be successful in life.

State education leaders echo this sentiment. “The world has changed, the economy has changed, and what our students need to know has changed," said New York Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch in a news release accompanying today’s results. "These scores reflect a new baseline and a new beginning.”

For more information, please visit:


State release of 2013 grade 3-8 assessments:

Common Core on the GCSD academics page:

Common Core resources for families: