Sewanhaka district sees rise in opt-outs, geometry Regents struggles

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Sewanhaka Central High School District Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Kathleen Sottile presented Tuesday the district's state assessment, Regents and Advanced Placement test scores. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

Sewanhaka Central High School District saw another rise in opt-outs during testing last semester, Kathleen Sottile, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said last Tuesday.

At Floral Park Memorial High School, Sottile said, there was a higher opt-out rate for the math state assessments than for English Language Arts. She did not give specific figures.

While the seventh and eighth grade both had a 58 percent passing rate for ELA exams, more than 10 percentage points above the state average, the passing percentage for eighth grade math sat at 7 percent for the third consecutive year. The state average was 22 percent.

Sottile, however, said this was due to more eighth grade students throughout the district taking Algebra I Regents exams and skipping the state assessment.

Sottile’s presentation pointed to three trends: more opt-outs in junior high math and science, more students enrolled in Living Environment and more students enrolled in Algebra I.

“They really have a large impact on the data,” Soittle said of the math and science trends.

Students across the district struggled with the geometry Regents exam, which has been a trend across Long Island since Common Core standards were established in 2015.

At New Hyde Park Memorial High School, the passing percentage in geometry fell from 91 percent last year to 76 percent for 2017, while those achieving mastery held steady at 21 percent. H. Frank Carey High School saw a similar dip, from 92 percent in 2016 to 80 percent in 2017 with 12 percent achieving mastery of the subject, down from 19 percent last year.

Sottile, the outgoing principal of Floral Park Memorial High School, said the science department focused on improving the school’s physics scores this year. Physics Regents scores improved 13 percentage points over last year to 96 percent with 41 percent achieving mastery.

While 73 percent of New Hyde Park students passed the eighth grade science state assessment, 96 percent passed the Living Environment Regents with a 69 percent mastery rate. Sewanhaka students followed the same trend, with 67 percent passing the science state assessment but 93 percent passing Living Environment Regents exams.

Sottile said 3,363 students took Advanced Placement exams throughout the district and about 68 percent of them scored a 3, 4 or 5 on the exam, potentially earning college credit for those courses.

New Hyde Park High School had the highest percentage of high AP scores with 80 percent.

At Sewanhaka High School, AP courses are becoming more popular.

“The great news about this is that this past year, we had 529 students taking the AP exams, but for May 2018, Sewanhaka High School will have increased that number to 724 students,” Sottile said. “That is a huge increase.”

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