2011-08-19 / Top Stories

Public School ELA Scores In

Mixed Bag For Rockaway Schools
By Howard Schwach

The scores from this year’s highstakes English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics tests are in, and most of the Rockaway schools still fall far below the standard necessary to be considered at grade level.

And, once again, the great majority of the peninsula’s schools fell far below the levels they achieved in 2008 and 2009 when the state had lowered the cut scores to allow more students to achieve high levels.

The cut score for a test is the number of right answers a student must get to achieve a certain level.

For years, ever since the federal government began offering large sums of money for states doing well on the tests, that cut score was lowered so that more students could achieve the necessary Level 3 of competency to pass the test, state officials now admit.

In fact, a good number of the schools continue to fall from that 2008 high.

Take, for example, Intermediate School 53 in Far Rockaway.

In 2008, 36 percent of the school’s students were reading at Level 3 and Level 4, the two highest levels.

In 2009, that percentage rose to nearly 60 percent, a startling growth pattern.

That year, IS 53 got an A on its school report card and was rated by the Department of Education as one of the top schools in the city.

In 2010, however, the State Department of Education, embarrassed by reports that the test scores did not show the reality of what was happening in the classrooms, raised the cut scores to where they had been in 2001 and 2002.

That year, even though the great majority of the students in the school were the same students that were there the previous year, only 16.4 percent of the students in IS 53 were found to be reading on Level 3 and Level 4, city reports show.

This year, the school did even worse, with only 10.5 percent of the students reading on adequate levels.

Several local schools show the same pattern of rising scores in 2008 and 2009 and then precipitously falling scores in the past two years.

PS 47, in Broad Channel, went from a 90.7 percent passing percentage to a 74.1 percentage this year.

PS 114, long believed to be the best elementary school on the peninsula, dropped from 93.4 percent in 2009 to 74.7 percent this year. Several schools managed to show small gains between last year and this, however.

PS 42 in Arverne went to 23.9 percent from 19.7 percent.

PS 104 in Bayswater went to 41.3 percent from last year’s 30.2 percent.

And PS 105 in Arverne went to 26.9 percent from 23.2 percent.

School report cards are due sometime after the school year begins next month.

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