Making Sense of Recent Common Core Scores
• Loriann Cody
There is much to be said, both good and bad, about
the Common Core Standards adopted by New York
State Department of Education (NYDOE). In its fourth
year of a 12-year roll-out, Common Core is once again
in the news as the state released the 2014 scores
on August 15. You can find the test data at http://data.newsday.com/longisland/data/education/school-and-districts-tests
Overall, state-wide 2014 scores showed an uptick in math, and a lowering or flat-line in the ELA (English-Language Arts) scores, when measured against 2013 numbers. Proponents of Common Core will use this as basis to spring forward, while opponents will also use these numbers to lend credence to their motto, “Common Core doesn’t work.” Several students opted-out of the testing this year, with 11% of students in Locust Valley (LVCSD) not taking the tests, and more than 18% of Oyster Bay-East Norwich (OB) students declining to be tested. This large amount of non-participants can skew the data, especially in Oyster Bay, which is a very small district. Opt-out data is not available for Glen Cove schools.
In all three local districts, this year’s scores were no match for the 2012 scores, in which Common Core had not yet been adopted. But in comparing 2013 and 2014 scores (Common Core both years), the numbers are not showing a marked improvement. In 2013, 42.8% of eighth grade LVCSD students met the state’s learning standards for math, whereas that number fell to 15% in 2014. This low number could be explained by the amount of accelerated students that opted to take the Algebra Regents instead. Glen Cove eighth grade math scores showed a 1% improvement this year.
Local English scores did not fare much better. In 2014, 50% of OBEN eighth grade students met the state standards, whereas in 2013 that number was 62.5%. In 2014 LVCSD, 44% of eighth grade students met the standards, and in 2013 that number was 56.3%. In 2014, Glen Cove Schools showed a slight (less than 4%) increase in English scores from 2013.
The Common Core Standards are relatively new. In 2008, the National Governor’s Association supported an initiative on improving math and science education as well as creation of a more viable, better trained workforce. A task force was then created to address this issue — composed of commissioners of education, governors, corporate chief executive officers and recognized experts in higher education. At the end of 2008, this task force released a report that became the basis of the Common Core State Standards. Then the Gates Foundation (Bill and Melinda Gates’ charitable organization) supplied more than $233 million dollars in grants to fund the creation of the Standards, and to help build political support across the country for what has become a costly policy change. By 2010, 45 states and the District of Columbia had adopted the Common Core Standards. And it is not just public schools either. More than half of Catholic Dioceses have also adopted the standards, citing the difficulty in getting classroom materials and the lack of professional development programs (for teacher education) that are not Common Core related.
Now, many of those original Common Core proponents are backing off, including the Gates Foundation, which is urging states to delay the teacher’s accountability factor, which ties teacher evaluation to student scores. With teacher’s unions and parent groups unhappy with the quick roll-out, many states (including NY), have revised adoption timelines and several states have dropped Common Core completelythis year.
Yearly testing began with “No Child Left Behind,” and elementary and middle school students are used to being tested. Testing continues in high school, and for those students looking to attend college, most take the SAT or ACT test as well. In stark contrast to this test-for-student-evaluation policy, many colleges and universities adopting a test-optional policy. In other words, many colleges are no longer require the standardized test as a benchmark for admission. Currently, some 875 colleges are ‘test optional.’ While there are no Ivy Leagues on the list, many second tier universities are, such as Brandeis University and Bowdoin College, Ithaca College and the University of Maryland. A complete listing of ‘test optional’ colleges can be found at: http://fairtest.org/university/optional
The debate over the merits of the Common Core Standards will continue, and this year’s scores can be viewed either as a positive or a negative. But the goal of a better educated, better trained workforce is something we can all agree on.
Money Magazine Ranks GC Webb Institute #2
• Christine Loring
The Webb Institute in Glen Cove is considered an engineering college unlike any other. For 125 years, founded by New York shipbuilder William H Webb, the Institute has produced the nation's leading ship designers for over a century. Webb's Academy and Home for Shipbuilders was first built and opened in 1899, by architect Arthur P Jennings on a bluff overlooking the Harlem and Hudson rivers in the Bronx. The building was designed to look like a medieval castle and was used for 50 years. In 1945, the Board of Trustees decided to purchase the country estate of Herbert L. Pratt, in Glen Cove, and conversion work began in 1946. In April, 1947, classes began at the new campus in Glen Cove. The buildings and grounds are beautiful, and inspiring. The college specializes in marine engineering and naval architecture. Anything from a U.S. Navy destroyer, cruise liners or an American Cup yacht, the college features superb engineering excellence among the student designers. Each student, male and female, receives a four year full-tuition scholarship founded by Mr. Webb. It is the only full-tuition scholarship private undergraduate program of its kind in the country. The fund today is continued with contributions by parents, corporations, foundations, friends of the institute and alumni.
The college is considered extraordinary, and recently, Money magazine ranked Webb Institute among Money's Best College list out of 665 across the country on 17 different measures taking into account including: quality of education, career outcome, and affordability, an amazing Number 2! That is very impressive. The top 10 on the list are; 1., Babson College, Babson, Mass., 3., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. , 4., Princeton University, Princeton, N.J., 5., Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., 6., Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., 7., Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, Calif., 8., Cooper Union, NY, NY, 9., Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 10., California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. Webb is among really good company.
The college boasts job placement rate at 100%. Graduate-school placement is high as the institute is ranked 5th in the nation of empirical science Ph.D's. The full tuition scholarship does not include room, board, books, laptop and software. There are about 91 undergraduates, with a faculty to student ratio of 7.1. There is an open door policy to ensure student success. The Mission Statement is: To prepare graduates for prominent careers by: providing a rigorous education in the principles of engineering and a broad-based knowledge of the fundamentals of naval architecture and marine engineering; developing skills that will enable graduates to become leaders in and making significant contributions to their chosen profession and to the social environment in which it functions; instilling in our graduates the highest ethical standards and sense of professionalism; cultivating curiosity in the arts, sciences, and humanities, and providing background and encouragement necessary to support life-long learning.
The educational dedication and commitment at this Glen Cove institute is uplifting. The Honor Code: It prohibits lying, cheating, and stealing. The Student Organization administers the Honor Code, operates the student treasury, oversees social activities, and serves as liaison between students and the school administration.
Students will spend 5 hours a day in lecture. Students also have mandatory internship in January and February, in positions including shipyard, maritime industry, design offices, and aboard merchant vessels. All seniors are required to complete a senior thesis. Webb also has five varsity teams: sailing, soccer, basketball, volleyball and tennis.
It is fascinating that Glen Cove was established in May, 1668. Through all the years, from the beginning, when Joseph Carpenter purchased land from the Matinecock Indians to establish a town with potential, Glen Cove is here with a rich progressive history, looking forward with so much to offer the community and its residents.