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Wayne Post
  • NEWARK’S TEST SCORES ARE LOW; SUPERINTENDENT CITES “HIGH STAKES”

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  • NEWARK — The Board of Education got its first look at the test scores based on the new Common Core assessment parameters, and it wasn’t pretty.
    “These should not be compared to prior years’ results,” said new Superintendent Matt Cook at the meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 21, adding that despite what the board was about to see, “We’re still doing okay.”
    While schools are still coming to grips with the new Common Core standards and how to best implement them and prepare students for the new assessment tests, the tests have already been started. Just 19 percent of Newark third graders were in the “proficient” range; third-grade math proficiency was 21 percent. Numbers were similar for English and math through eighth grade.
    “This is going to be eye-opening and frustrating to a lot of parents,” he told the board last week. “Scores will be mailed home, with lots of communication from the principals.”
    One of the twists on the new tests is that they don’t “measure so much what kids know, but what skills do they have,” said Cook. “The state education department said all along that districts are going to drop by at least 30 percent in their scores… but these scores provide a more accurate picture of how our kids are doing. They show us the work that has to be done.”
    Even so, Newark’s students fell below state averages in the tests. English scores showed the most volatility, while math scores were more stable – but still lost ground compared to the state average.
    “This is the baseline,” Cook told the board. “These are high stakes for schools and teachers.”
    He noted the message is critical for seniors, who have to be able to pass the Regents exam in Algebra to graduate.
    “The teaching staff is taking this seriously and wants to do the learning they have to do to take this to the next level,” he said.
    Cooked noted that there were “no surprises in the data: high-performing school districts are still higher than us, and lower-performing school districts are still lower than us. But we need to do a lot of work to support students, parents and teachers.”
    Soccer coach named
    The board appointed junior varsity coach Scott DeRue as the new varsity soccer coach, with last year’s soccer coach, Sandy Bueso, sitting in the back of the room. Bueso said after the meeting that when he came from Gananda three years ago he had all his coaching certifications intact and had kept them up-to-date since, but the state found something lacking and he was notified he was no longer certified.
    “I sent all the papers to the state and I hope to hear back from them Friday,” Bueso said at the Wednesday meeting. He said he had just been informed there was a problem on Monday – the first day of practice.
    Page 2 of 2 - Cook said if “new facts and new information come to the fore, we’ll take that into account,” adding that the board could review the decision to name a new head coach. “We have to make sure we’re following the guidelines and laws,” he said.
    Resident Dave Howard had asked for some clarification of who was coaching whom after he found out DeRue was watching two teams practice on Monday.
    “The parents still need to know what’s going on, no matter what the administrative issues are.” He urged the board to be consistent in who is running teams.  

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