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Kentucky Education Commissioner Responds to New York's Common Core Testing

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday congratulated New York’s public education system following the first annual release of test results under the new common core standards that 45 states have adopted.In those results, the number of New York students deemed proficient under its new test dropped significantly because of higher expectations in the common core standards, similar to what Kentucky experienced last year.Because Kentucky created its own test—with common core standards in mind—its results can’t directly be measured against New York’s new exam results. But what is similar is the “drop” in the number of students testing proficiently.Last year, the Kentucky Education Department released results that showed a nearly 30 point drop in the percentage of students testing proficiently in reading and math. For math specifically, Kentucky’s elementary and middle school students were testing at nearly 70 percent proficiency the year before. Under the new test—and results released last November—that number became 40 percent.Educators say the new common core standards raised the expectations, which is reason for the apparent drop.In New York’s first attempt at testing the common core, about 30 percent of third- through eighth-grade students were proficient, which is a drop from the prior year when 65 percent of students were proficient.New York Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. echoed similar comments made by Holliday last year when he said the new results aren’t representative of a decrease in student performance, rather it offers a more competitive baseline for measuring how prepared students are for college and careers.Holliday says he supports staying the course with the standards and says it is wrong not joining the common core movement. Further, Holliday says Kentucky didn’t experience significant backlash because the state aggressively campaigned to educate parents and communities about the standards.Kentucky will tentatively release its second year of comparable assessment data during the last full week of September. This will be the first year results under new common core testing will be used as comparison against the previous year.The common core standards were developed by a consortium of states and includes support from the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and are strongly supported by President Barack Obama. Several lawmakers in various states like Indiana, Georgia, and Oklahoma have pushed back against the standards (and in some cases have decided to withdrawal from implementation), but supporters remind the opposition that the common core doesn’t say how to teach, just what would best prepare students for life after high school.Below is a summary of New York’s statewide 3-8 grade exam results:

  • 31.1% of grade 3-8 students across the State met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 31% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
  • The ELA proficiency results for race/ethnicity groups across grades 3-8 reveal the persistence of the achievement gap: only 16.1% of African-American students and 17.7% of Hispanic students met or exceeded the proficiency standard
  • 3.2% of English Language Learners (ELLs) in grades 3-8 met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 9.8% of ELLs met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
  • 5% of students with disabilities met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 7% of students with disabilities met or exceeded the math proficiency standard

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