By Tessa Raebeck
Schools on the East End are expecting lower than average results on the New York State Regents Exams, taken earlier this month, and some administrators feel the transition to the Common Core curriculum is to blame.
Citing “the endless testing that’s gone on,” Bridgehampton School Principal John Pryor reported that district’s Regents results at its board of education (BOE) meeting on June 26.
“The exams that were changed with the Common Core were the ones that were impacted the most,” Pryor told the board.
Common Core refers to the Common Core Standards Initiative, a federal program that was formally adopted by the New York State Regents Board in January 2011. Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) are being phased into New York’s schools and standardized tests in an ongoing process.
The former New York State standards for ELA/Literacy and Math were replaced with the CCLS beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, according to the NYS Department of Education.
Regents exams are given every June to middle and high school students in New York. Most students are required to take the exams, and those students must earn a certain number of Regents credits in order to graduate high school.
In Bridgehampton, the results of the Regents exams were considerably lower for those courses that are undergoing the transition to Common Core.
“The trigonometry exam was a heartbreaker,” Pryor told the board. According to the principal, only 23 percent of Bridgehampton students passed, three of the 13 students who took the exam. The average score was a dismal 54.
“Two of the math teachers that took the exam said that it would be difficult for them to pass,” said Pryor.
In 2012, 89 percent of Bridgehampton students passed the trigonometry exam.
The English Regents also “presented scores that were below normal,” said Pryor. “Although we had a 100 percent pass rate, the overall scores were lower.”
Similar results were reported in Earth Science. The exam, “which we’ve had great success in over the past five years, was another test that was impacted by Common Core,” said Pryor.
The average grade for the Earth Science Regents in Bridgehampton was 75. In 2012, 86 percent of Bridgehampton students scored above an 85.
Other local school administrators are predicting similar results.
“The official results are not back yet on the Regents,” said Southampton Middle School Principal Tim Frazier. “Overall, the Common Core goes much deeper into the content, asks teachers and students to think deeply and demonstrate knowledge. This is the first time through for some elements of the Common Core infused into the Regents testing — it was more rigorous and challenging for students — scores will be lower.”
According to Pierson Middle-High School Principal Jeff Nichols, Sag Harbor managed to avoid the decline in scores reported elsewhere.
“Our Regents results were strong this year,” Nichols said. “The impact of the Common Core on Regents assessments will be ongoing as the state introduces new assessments moving forward.”
In May, a group of 50 New York City principals sent a letter to New York State Education Commissioner John King expressing their concern over the exams.
“We were hopeful that this year’s state exams would better represent the college preparatory-type performance tasks that Common Core exemplifies,” reads the letter. “Unfortunately, we feel that not only did this year’s New York State Exams take an extreme toll on our teachers, families and most importantly, our students, they also fell short of the aspirations of these Standards.”
The administrators asked King for the opportunity “to engage in a constructive dialogue with you and your team to help ensure that moving forward our New York State Exams are true and fair assessments of the Common Core Standards.”