To the Members of the South Huntington Learning Community:

I am sure you are all well aware of the recent media coverage regarding the 2012-2013 student assessment scores. These results, which were recently released by the New York State Education Department, follow a year of publicity regarding the new Common Core learning standards, which were mandated by the Commissioner of Education. As predicted by Commissioner King, scores throughout the state are significantly lower than previous years.  In recent correspondence the Commissioner contended that the student results create a new baseline that cannot be compared to prior years and should not be interpreted as an indicator that our students are learning less or that our teachers and schools are performing worse.

Although the Commissioner's words make sense from a purely intellectual standpoint, we can all understand the concern that the decline in scores can evoke at the local, human level.  While our teachers, administrators, and staff have every intention of working within the new Common Core parameters to prepare our children, we do not believe that the recent scores reflect upon our students' ability to succeed at the college level. Our district's graduation rate, college attendance numbers, and US News and World Report ranking provide solid proof of our students' readiness to compete at the national level. We have every reason to believe that this success will continue, and remain determined to build upon the foundation that our teachers and parents have created. We also intend to meet the rising bar set by the New York State Education Department by enhancing Common Core instruction and elevating our student performance results.

At this point we are analyzing the bulk-test data in an effort to modify instruction and assist our teachers in preparing their students for Common Core challenges.  As in the past, the Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) is attaching the New York State explanations to the individual student results and preparing them for mailing to parents/guardians over the next several weeks.  In addition, district personnel will be sifting through the various new guidance memos and attending a variety of meetings aimed at interpreting the results and providing support to our students.  Rest assured that we will keep you informed of any new information that becomes available.

The summary of our discussion today is that while the recently released scores can be unsettling, they are not an indication that our students are any less ready for college or careers than they were before. We also should not overreact to the assertion that our children can lack college and career readiness while still in elementary school.   Although we are all in favor of raising expectations and increasing standards, there is no doubt that the Common Core and accompanying assessments were implemented in a hurried fashion.  However, regardless of these understandable frustrations, we remain confident that the people of our learning community will not shrink from the challenge.   Rest assured that our teachers, students, and parents will continue to work collectively to meet these rising expectations. Please know that we are available to answer any questions you might have regarding the Common Core curriculum or assessments.

We appreciate your support during this process and value the special learning community in South Huntington.

Sincerely, 

David Bennardo
Superintendent of Schools
South Huntington School District