Following last year’s sharp decline in test scores, local school administrators had spent recent weeks on tenterhooks, anxiously awaiting the annual release of this year’s test scores. The drop in scores last year was mostly due to changes in curriculum based on the Common Core, a national standard meant to improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Before the Common Core was adopted, passage rates in Suffolk County averaged between 65 to 75 percent in both math and English on annual spring tests. Across Long Island this year, the number of students who passed the math exam rose from 37.5 percent to 43.4 percent, although English had a slight decline, from 39.6 percent to 36.8 percent. Statewide, passage rates were 36 percent in math and 31 percent in English.
South Fork schools saw similar uneven results, with some districts above the state average, while others continued to show signs of struggle. The difference in test performance can partly be explained by divergent student demographics and the small number enrolled in some local schools.
To pass the tests, each student in grades three to eight had to score either 3 or 4, meaning they either met or exceeded grade-level proficiency standards. The New York State Education Department has said students who score only 2 are “on track for current graduation requirements,” but 3 is the college and career-ready metric most districts strive to meet.
In East Hampton, performance varied by grade. For instance, 37 percent of its third graders met or exceeded proficiency in math, but only 24 percent did so in English. In the sixth grade, 43 percent passed the math exam, with 31 percent passing the English exam. In the eighth grade, only 23 percent met or exceeded proficiency in math though 51 percent met or exceeded proficiency in English.
“We did not do as well as we would have liked, though there were definitely some bright spots,” Richard Burns, the East Hampton superintendent, said Monday. “Right now, we’re analyzing the data to help determine areas we need to focus on to improve.”
The Child Development Center of the Hamptons, an East Hampton charter school, had far lower rates. In the third grade, 77 percent scored either 1 or 2 on the math exam, with 89 percent scoring 1 or 2 in English. Only 18 percent of the fifth grade met or exceeded proficiency in math and English.
Last year, Amagansett far outperformed neighboring districts. This year, 56 percent of its third grade met or exceeded proficiency in math, with 38 percent doing so in English. Fifth-grade math was a particular bright spot, with 80 percent meeting or exceeding proficiency. In the fourth-grade math test, 69 percent scored either 3 or 4.
“Overall, our math scores were higher than our [English language arts] scores as consistent with the rest of the state,” Eleanor Tritt, the Amagansett superintendent, said. “But our E.L.A. scores do compare favorably with other East End districts. We are reviewing allof the test results and questions the state did release so we can actually glean . . . how we can improve our instruction in both E.L.A. and math.”
In Wainscott, 40 percent of third graders scored either 3 or 4 on the math exam, but only five students were tested. Results of the English exam were not released. Because of its small class sizes, with between two to four students per grade, results for Sagaponack were similarly withheld as inconclusive.
In Bridgehampton, performance varied by grade as it did last year. Though 80 percent of the sixth grade scored 3 or 4 in math, only 20 percent did the same on the English test. Only 10 percent of the seventh grade passed the math exam, and only 18 percent passed in English. None of the eighth graders met or exceeded the proficiency standard in math, and only 27 percent did so in English.
“Understanding that this is a transition period is important as we interpret results, as well as remembering that this is just one data set,” Lois Favre, the Bridgehampton superintendent, said. “I am encouraged with our improvement in mathematics, as that was a real area of focus for us. While we did not see the growth we would like to see in E.L.A. state results, I believe that with a careful review of data . . . we will be able to set meaningful goals for ongoing improvement.”
Springs, meanwhile, saw slightly higher passing rates than last year, though some of its lower grades continued to perform significantly below the state average. For instance, 26 percent of the third grade scored either 3 or 4 on the math exam, with 28 percent doing the same in English. Among seventh graders, however, 40 percent met or exceeded proficiency standards in math and English.
Finally, in Montauk, performance similarly varied. Among third graders, 79 percent scored either 3 or 4 in math, with 52 percent doing so in English. Fifth and sixth graders saw respective passage rates of only 24 percent and 28 percent in math. Though only 31 percent of the eighth grade demonstrated proficiency in math, 64 percent met or exceeded the English standard.
“Some classes did fairly well, others not so much,” said Jack Perna, said the Montauk superintendent, who noted that in small schools, class results are fairly predictable from one year to the next. “We are trying to get where we need to be, and we will. I am not as happy with this year’s results. Overall, we did better last year.”