While New York State assessment test scores fell in the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District, they were still above corresponding elementary grade averages countywide, according to New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Superintendent of Schools Robert Katulak.
“Our students had less than a year on the Common Core curriculum,” Katulak said during a presentation of the test results at Monday night’s school board meeting.
He said the approximately 30 percent drop in scores year-to-year was anticipated, with third grade students’ scores the “weakest” among the elementary school district’s grade levels. He said 51 percent of the district’s third graders demonstrated competence in English Language Arts compared to 46 percent of third graders countywide. On the mathematics test, 49 percent of the district’s third graders showed competence compared to 47 percent of third graders in the county.
“We want to work on that,” Katulak said.
Overall, he said, test scores in the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park district showed higher averages than scores in the grades of the other component elementary school districts of the Sewanhaka Central High School District.
But, Katulak said, the results indicate a need for “targeted, focused instruction” in the school district.
The widest disparities between the district and the county were found in the fourth grade where 58 percent of fourth graders in the district scored showed competence in English Language Arts against a 43 percent average countywide, and 59 percent of fifth graders showed competence in math against 42 percent districtwide.
Katulak said the top performance among the schools was and at the Manor Oaks School where 76 percent of fifth graders showed competence in math.
In other test results, 54 percent of fifth and sixth graders in the district demonstrated competency in English Language Arts compared to 43 percent among fifth graders and 42 percent among sixth graders countywide.
In math results, 57 percent of sixth graders showed competency against 44 percent countywide, while 53 percent of fourth graders demonstrated competency compared to 48 percent countywide.
Katulak said the district had created “response teams” of teachers who would conduct interventions with students who failed to demonstrate competence in math or English Language Arts. The district would like teachers to take future tests into consideration but not become too fixated, he said.
“It’s just a snapshot in time,” he said of the test results. “We’re opposed to teaching to the test.”
In a presentation on the district’s three-year plan for curriculum, Judith LaRocca, district director of curriculum, instruction and technology, said district math teachers have rewritten the district mathematics program based on student needs and the language called for under the Common Core. She said the new math vernacular of the Common Core will be consistent in all grades.
“They are speaking a more common language,” LaRocca said.
She said new instructional software programs are in use, including Starfull for word recognition, Fastt Math and Fraction Nation to develop “fluid” math skills for Common Core, and BrainPOP, for improvement in all subject areas.
LaRocca said new STAR assessments are being used to evaluate students’ level of competence in English and math.
“It can hone in on the specific ability of the students,” she said.
The district, she said, will also be implementing a program called How Writer’s Work in grades K though 6 “since the Common Core emphasizes writing skills.”
LaRocca said the district would also be making a “massive infrastructure update” by switching to use of Nassau BOCES virtual servers.
Computers will be updated in each school’s computer labs, she said, with firewalls also updated. She said the district also needs to update many of its smartboards.