Last spring, students across the state sat for two days of standardized testing as required by the New York State Education Department. The results released Aug. 22 showed 85% of Scarsdale students in grades 3 through 8 scored proficient on the English Language Arts exams and 88% scored proficient on the math exams.
The scores show little change from last year’s results. In 2018, 84% were proficient on the English Language Arts exams and 88% scored proficient on the math exams, on par with this year’s scores.
“Scarsdale continues to score very well by these particular standardized measures,” said Edgar McIntosh, the assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment for Scarsdale Public Schools. “While these high scores can be reassuring snapshots, they only describe one way we assess our students in Scarsdale.”
The proficiency rate for Scarsdale third-graders was 91% in English and 92% in math, according to data provided by the New York State Education Department. Both exams showed minimal increases from last year, with a 3% increase in proficiency in the ELA exams and no increase in the proficiency in the math exams.
Statewide, Scarsdale students scored well above the state averages, with 85% of Scarsdale students proficient on the ELA exams compared to 45.4%, and 88% proficient on the math exams compared to 46.7% statewide.
The average proficiency of all the schools in Westchester County mirrored the state averages, with 53% of students in Westchester proficient on the ELA exams — up from 51% last year — and 55% proficient on the math exams — up from 53% last year.
”We’re not teaching to the test, but at the same time we are aware and we use the standards in which the test is based on to guide curriculum,” said McIntosh. “So from a big picture, [the tests] help for us to look at how we did in various areas … [and] to see if there are any large gaps.”
According to McIntosh, parents can expect to see their children’s state test results in about two weeks.
Student performance and assessment in the Scarsdale School District is measured through formative daily, weekly and monthly tests, which are “much more detailed and effective at evaluating where students are,” McIntosh told the Inquirer.
The Fountas and Pinnell benchmark is used to assess student reading and literacy, according to McIntosh.
The Scarsdale School District does not use the state tests to evaluate educator performance. Instead the district uses accountability measures through administrative supervision.
Data collected by the state showed 7.6% of eligible Scarsdale students chose to opt out of the ELA state exams, and 6.2% sat out of the math exams. The reported statewide opt-out rate was 16%, a 2% decline from 2018 and a 3% decline from 2017.
“These tests are meaningful to us, but put in a proper context,” said McIntosh. “Good at big picture — seeing that we are meeting our benchmarks — not so specific at evaluating students and not particularly valid at evaluating teachers.”