It’s part of the back-to-school ritual: shortly after classes resume each fall, parents receive a report on how their kids did on the Common Core English and Math tests taken the previous spring.
By Bob Zahm
It’s part of the back-to-school ritual: shortly after classes resume each fall, parents receive a report on how their kids did on the Common Core English and Math tests taken the previous spring. Putting those results in context requires looking at how other students did – in our district, as well as in our peer Westchester County districts.
A deeper look at the data shows Rye City continuing to perform below many of its peers. Students ranked 9th in English and Math. The passing rates — 60.9% in English and 70.8% in Math — reflect a less than 1% improvement over last year.
At Rye Neck, 57.3% of students passed the English test and 70.6% the Math, which resulted in the district ranking 14th in English and 10th in Math. The English scores represent an improvement of slightly over 1%. Math scores improved by 7%, the most of our peer Westchester districts this year.
In addition to test performance, New York State has published data showing the number of students opting out by district, by grade, by test, and their test performance in 2014. Rye City’s opt-out rate for the tests was 7% (English) and 8% (Math). Rye Neck’s opt-out rates were considerably higher at 26% for both the English and Math tests, which may have improved its relative performance.
The opt-out rate for Rye’s peer districts ranged from a low of 1% in Bronxville (on both English and Math) to a high of 27% in North Salem on the English test. The state-provided performance data shows that in all but one district (Chappaqua) the majority of students opting out in 2015 had failed the tests in 2014.
Looking at the top English performers in Westchester County, Briarcliff, Byram Hills, and Bronxville maintain their top five positions. Edgemont and Hastings on Hudson joined them this year as Chappaqua and Scarsdale fell back to the middle third. The top performing district’s passing rate dropped from 71.7% (Bronxville) last year to 66.9% (Briarcliff Manor) this year. It is unclear what caused this decline in peak performance.
In Math, Edgemont and Scarsdale joined Briarcliff, Chappaqua, and Bronxville in the top 5. Byram Hills and Irvington moved out of the top 5, with Irvington falling to the bottom third. Irvington’s presence in the top 5 last year looks like an anomaly. Contrary to the English tests, the Math passing rate for the top school increased slightly from 78.4% (Chappaqua) last year to 79.2% (Briarcliff Manor) this year.
Looking at the data over the past five years, with 2011 and 2012 preceding introduction of the new Common Core tests, Edgemont may be a role model given its year-over-year improvement in both English and Math. Edgemont’s move from the bottom third in 2011 to the top third in 2015 seems to indicate that it has gotten something right with Common Core introduction.
Stepping back a bit from the details, it appears that no Westchester school district has “cracked” the code on the English and Math tests given that no one has achieved a 90+% passing rate. Math seems a bit easier with consistently higher percentages of students passing versus English. However, in neither subject area is the equivalent of a B- being achieved; e.g., 80% passing.