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Scoring changes to NYS assessments to affect Baldwinsville students

The Baldwinsville Central School District measures student progress in a multitude of ways. The key question we ask is, "Upon graduation, can Baldwinsville students compete with students world-wide for successful opportunities in the workforce, higher education, technical education, the armed services, etc.?" Based on all of the data that we have shared with the public, we can unwaveringly say, "Yes."

New York State 3-8 and Regents Testing, and the Federal No Child Left Behind Regulations, are two well-known examples of methods for measuring student success in our schools. Baldwinsville students have demonstrated continuous improvement in meeting the state's proficiency level on the state assessments, and the number of Baldwinsville students meeting mastery level (85-100) on Regents exams has been consistently increasing.

Additionally, Baldwinsville schools are making adequate yearly progress, as outlined by the No Child Left Behind Act. This is another indication of the advancements that the district is making toward the goal of proficiency for all Baldwinsville students.

However, the district was recently notified by the State Education Department (SED) that the department is examining the design and cost of New York State grades 3-8 assessments, which are funded by taxpayers. Essentially, the state is saying that its own exams are insufficient measures of the progress of state students.

Along these same lines, we were told that in the 2010-2011 academic year, the SED plans to recalibrate the scoring of the assessments that were administered in the spring of 2010. The recalibration will require an increase in the number of correct responses by a student in order for a student to be considered as scoring at a proficiency level.

Unfortunately, this change -- what the SED refers to as the "cut score" -- may cause confusion as well as a misperception that student proficiency is on the decline.

The change will likely result in a significant drop in the percentage of students across New York State with a proficient score, even though the tests haven't changed, and Baldwinsville students, like many others, continue to score higher on the exams on a year-over-year basis, according to the scoring metric that has been used and in relation to existing state standards.

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