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School districts respond to cut score changes

In grades three through eight statewide, 53 percent of students in English and 61 percent in math met or exceeded new proficiency standards in 2010. In 2009, 77 percent met or exceeded standards in English and 86 did so in math, according to NYSED.

Schools districts in the region are scrambling to respond to the changes and figure out a way to help students adjust.

"Using the analogy of a high jumper, we could say that the great majority of Burnt Hills children have been successful up to now at clearing the state standard of a 4-foot high jump," said Superintendent Jim Schultz in a statement. "But starting in 2010, the state is saying that in order to be successful in 21st century jobs and life, students need to be able to clear a 5-foot high jump. In short, the student performance bar has been raised, and schools are working to respond."

In response, the BH-BL school district's primary plan is to continue to monitor the progress of individual students, said Communications Specialist Christy Multer. She said in addition to the district's efforts, things can be done at home to help students improve.

"One thing for parents to understand is there's a broad range of things both parents and teachers can do to help kids improve their English and math abilities, and one is to just have a home that's rich in reading materials and where there are lots of books and reading that takes place," said Multer. "This is a challenge for everyone but also a maturational process as kids grow older. It's not about judging kids, it's about understanding their strengths and helping them develop in areas where they're weak."

Dragone said it's been the district's mission since day one to support and encourage the achievement of its students and it will continue to do so, even amidst the period of change.

"We support higher standards with our programs and hold them to higher standards in all the work we do. We have a new baseline and we'll just keep moving forward," said Dragone. "We offer academic support and resources all the time to all kids that need help. We target services down to the individual student and we'll continue to do that."

All districts are encouraging parents who may be concerned or have questions to contact the district or a teacher. For more information about the change to cut scores and what this year's testing results were, visit www.nysed.gov.

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