Nearly all school districts on the South Fork performed well above average on the New York State Education Department’s annual school report cards for 2011-12, released last month.
Every year, across the state, students in third to eighth grade take two exams: one in math and one in English language arts. Students in fourth and eighth grade also take a science exam. Each are scored on a scale of 1 to 4 — with a 1 denoting below-standard performance, a 2 indicating that a student has met the basic standard, a 3 noting the student is proficient, and a 4 denoting that a student exceeds proficiency.
Earlier this spring, students across New York State took the first assessments that were aligned to the Common Core, a new, national set of learning standards that are meant to promote higher-order critical thinking. Students were tested on both fiction and nonfiction, not only through multiple-choice questions but also in the form of short essays. Because of the change in format, John King, the New York State Commissioner of Education, has acknowledged that statewide, next year’s school report cards are likely to show a large drop in test scores — some by as much as 30 percent.
Beside test scores, the annual report cards also include information related to enrollment, class size, racial and ethnic demographics, teacher qualifications, and turnover, among other things. All are available to view online at reportcards.nysed.gov.
Here on the South Fork, each report card provides a useful snapshot in terms of the wildly divergent school populations — and unique needs of each district.
For 2011-12, the East Hampton School District reported an enrollment of 1,841 students in grades prekindergarten through 12th grade, with an average class size of 21 students. Nearly a quarter of East Hampton’s students qualified for either a free or reduced-price lunch, in a student body that is 51 percent white and 41 percent Latino. Since 2009, the Latino population has grown by 5 percent, while the white population has dropped by 5 percent.
At the John M. Marshall Elementary School, fewer third graders received a 3 or 4 on the English language arts and math tests than the state average; 44 percent scored a 3 or higher in English and 52 percent scored 3 or higher in math, compared to 51 percent and 54 percent last year.
Among fourth graders, 65 percent scored a 3 or higher on the English language arts exam, compared with 67 percent the previous year. And in math, 79 percent of fourth graders scored a 3 or higher, compared with 75 percent from the previous year. In science, 88 percent scored a 3 or higher, a drop of 3 percentage points from the prior year.
Calls to Robert Tymann, East Hampton’s assistant superintendent, who oversees curriculum and instruction, went unreturned.
The Springs School District reported an enrollment of 650 students — an increase of 47 students since 2009. The average class size was 21 students. As in East Hampton, nearly a quarter of Springs students qualify for either a free or reduced-price lunch in a student body that is increasingly Latino; white students totaled 45 percent, while Latinos numbered 51 percent.
Among fourth graders at Springs School, 58 percent scored either a 3 or higher on the English language arts exam, compared with 57 percent the year before. In math, 71 percent of Springs fourth graders scored similarly, compared with 68 percent the year before. And in science, 88 percent of fourth-grade students scored a 3 or higher, compared with 94 percent the year prior.
Students in the eighth grade at Springs School showed incredible gains, with 74 percent scoring a 3 or higher, compared with 56 percent the year before — an increase of 18 percentage points. And in science, 96 percent of eighth graders scored a 3 or higher, compared with 79 percent the year prior — an increase of 17 percentage points.
“Although it’s important to monitor, testing is not the be all and end all,” said Eric Casale, the principal of Springs School, at a school board meeting on Monday night. “I credit our gains to the hard work and dedication of my colleagues and my staff. We do it with good teaching and trying to be as individual as we can, knowing a student’s strengths and weaknesses, and tailoring the instruction to meet their needs.”
For 2011-12, the Amagansett Union Free School District, which enrolls 101 students in prekindergarten through sixth grade, reported an average class size of 15 students. None of its students were eligible for reduced-price lunches and its student body was 74 percent white and just 10 percent Latino.
In terms of fourth-grade English language arts, 75 percent of Amagansett students scored a 3 or higher, compared with 80 percent last year. In math, 81 percent of Amagansett fourth graders scored a 3 or higher, compared with 87 percent last year. And in science, 100 percent of Amagansett fourth-graders scored a 3 or higher.
The Bridgehampton School District had an enrollment of 140 students in grades prekindergarten through 12th grade and an average class size of 11. In a school where black, Latino, and white students each account for 31 percent of the student body, half qualified for either free or reduced-price lunches.
Among Bridgehampton’s fourth graders, 64 percent scored a 3 or higher on the English language arts exam, compared with 38 percent last year. And in math, 71 percent of fourth graders scored 3 or higher, compared with 46 percent last year. Finally, in science, 93 percent of Bridgehampton fourth graders scored a 3 or better. Though students tested above the state average in third through sixth grades, fewer seventh graders scored a 3 or higher in both math and English than the state average.
The Sagaponack School District reported an enrollment of 18 students in first through fourth grade. None of its students qualified for either free or reduced-price lunches in a student body that is 89 percent white and 6 percent black. All seven fourth graders scored a 3 or higher on both the English language arts and math exams. Six of seven fourth graders scored a three or higher on the science exam.
The Wainscott Common School reported an enrollment of 19 students in kindergarten to third grade. The average class size was six. Among its students, 68 percent are white and 26 percent are Latino. None qualified for either free or reduced-price lunches. Because only four students in third grade were tested, the school’s scores were not available.
Finally, the Montauk School district reported an enrollment of 285 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade, where class sizes averaged 15 students. Among its student body, which is 63 percent white, 28 percent Latino, 5 percent Asian, and 4 percent black, none qualified for either free or reduced-price lunches.
Among its class of 22 fourth graders, 73 percent scored a 3 or higher in the English language arts exam, compared with 65 percent the year before. In math, 86 percent scored a 3 or higher, compared with 77 percent last year. And in science, 100 percent of fourth graders scored a 3 or higher.