Only about a third of New York state's third through eighth grade students met the new tougher standards from April's round of state mandated English and math tests. That's about half as many as last year, before the new Common Core Curriculum was adopted in the state. For an urban school district like the Syracuse City School District, scores were in the single digits. Syracuse Superintendent Sharon Contreras expected the test results to be bad.
"It's a tough day to sit here and to see those results," Contreras said. "It's a tough day for superintendents all over the state."
Contreras also says that although it's difficult to look at the numbers, it doesn't mean it was a lost school year.
"When I first looked at the results, I said to myself, 'How do I keep teachers motivated,'" Contreras said. "I also know that teachers know students better than anyone but their parents. I know that they know how much they taught, and how much the students learned. And they know the students worked hard and they are learning."
In Syracuse's case, fewer than nine percent of students met state standards in the English Language Arts tests in grades three through eight. On the math side of the ledger, fewer than seven percent of students met the standards, down from 24 and 27 percent respectively a year ago. But why did the scores drop so dramatically? Contreras says the new common core curriculum is simply harder.
"And remember in the urban school districts, many of our students are behind," Contreras said. "When you add to that a more rigorous curriculum, the gap widens."
Still, Contreras says she supports this new curriculum. She believes it has the power to bring equity across communities and school districts, and help prepare students for college and the workforce. So what will the district do with these numbers?
"I just want to use the data to help our teachers become better and provide better support systems for our students," Contreras said.