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State responds to low test scores with rule change

By ANNA MEILER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- The state responded this week to the landslide in the New York State standardized test scores released in August.

"The state I think understood that, that was a one-time deal with kids. Kids are just becoming exposed to Common Core," said Lori Eccleston, Administrative Director of Curriculum and Instruction.

Only 31 percent of students in grades three through eight passed the math and English Language Arts tests based on the new Common Core curriculum, meaning everyone who failed would require Academic Intervention Services, also known as A.I.S.

"If they're a 3 or a 4 student on a test, an A student, a very well-rounded student that's been doing well and all the sudden with one test falls flat on their face, which happened with some of the kids because the test changed, you wouldn't necessarily want to identify that student as needing Academic Intervention services across the board. So I think the state understood that was a one-time deal with kids. Kids are just becoming exposed to Common Core, so it's going to take a couple years before you see kids actually mastering the model of the Common Core," said Lori Eccleston.

This week, the Board of Regents changed the cut-off points for A.I.S. For example, a third grader who scored under 314 points in math would have required A.I.S. but with the change, the cut off score has been lowered to 293 points. By decreasing this cut-off line, the amount of students requiring A.I.S. will now stay about the same as it was last year.

"We don't need to service students who really don't need to be serviced. They can be serviced in other ways," said Denise Dispireto, District Wide A.I.S. Facilitator.

Sixty-three percent of the Utica School District already requires A.I.S. and after losing about a half a million dollars of support with the sequester, it couldn't afford hiring the extra A.I.S. certified personnel.

"The cut points are a good thing for us because it leaves our class sizes, our instructional class sizes at a much smaller group. Our class sizes are now anywhere from six to eight. They may have gone as large as 10 to 15," said Dispireto.

For those students who are in a gray area, teachers can recommend which students they think need A.I.S. and submit that information to the state by Nov. 1.

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