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Local Leaders React to Test Scores

Graf, Nolan offer their insights to 30% drop in proficiency or better among grades 3-8 at Sachem.

New York State Assemblyman Al Graf.
New York State Assemblyman Al Graf.
New York State Assemblyman Al Graf and Sachem School Superintendent James Nolan weighed in on the recent release of New York State ELA and Math assessments, which showed a 30-percent plummet in proficiency or better among Sachem students grades 3-8.

Graf, a vocal opponent of the state's adoption of the federal Common Core Curriculum, has introduced legislation to the Assembly calling for the state's withdrawal from Common Core. In a statement released on the day of the test results, Graf said the results prove the failure of the Common Core.

“My question for the governor, legislature and those responsible for our state’s education policy is simple; can you hear me now?” Graf stated. “Forcing through rigorous, one-size-fits-all standardized testing hampers teachers and hurts students. While reports have surfaced indicating that both teachers and students are literally becoming ill due to test-related stress, these test scores prove that our children are being set up for failure. The more I talk to parents, teachers and students, the louder the calls for education reform become. It is time to abandon the failed policies that are shortchanging Long Island’s children and fix New York schools.”

Superintendent Nolan spoke at Wednesday's Board of Education meeting about the results. While not endorsing a withdrawal of Common Core, the superintendent did reassure those in the audience that Sachem is a top notch school and will continue to accomplish great things.

"It is not just us, although that doesn't make me feel any better," Nolan said. "I always say I'm not really caught up in comparing us to other places; I like to compare us to us, and know that our students are becoming the best that they can be. We continue to communicate with the state with the hopes of working with them. I can speak for one school: in one year when the school is recognized and cited as a school to watch in a positive sense for 75 or 76-percent achieving at a high rate, and then the very next year we see a 50-percent decline, and to be told ahead of time to expect something that, I would compare it to in all my years of teaching. If I gave an exam and the whole class failed, I can't just assume the whole class didn't study. I have to say there's either something wrong with the exam or I didn't cover the material. So I don't want anybody to think that we're not concerned about this because we certainly are, but I can promise you that Sachem will remain in good hands and we have outstanding teachers. Our graduates go on to great, great things in college, career, or the military, so along those lines I am confident that will not change."

Assemblyman Graf has launched a website and petition entitled "Fix NY Schools," which calls for withdrawal from Common Core and other initiatives he believes are damaging the education system. His petition has reached more than 2,700 signatures.   

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