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Kevin Scanlon

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Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, delivered good news about Three Village students tests scores at the Oct. 17 school board meeting. Photo by Andrea Paldy

By Andrea Paldy

The Three Village school district’s 2017–18 report card indicates that Three Village students continue to excel. That’s happening even as the state continues to update standards and tests.

Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, gave the report at the district’s Oct. 17 school board meeting. He said Three Village students received among the highest Regents scores in the state and provided statistics on the class of 2018.

Three Village students passed English and two social studies Regents exams at rates of 94 to 97 percent, with a majority of students achieving a score of mastery — 85 percent and above — on those exams, Scanlon said. A handful of students — 10 percent — took the old version of the Global History and Geography exam with a 42 percent pass rate.

The rate of passing on the math Regents was equally as impressive, with 92 percent of students passing Algebra, 93 percent passing Geometry and 99 percent passing Algebra II. The mastery rates were 42, 38 and 49 percent, respectively.

Science Regents results showed more than 90 percent of Three Village students passing the exams with rates ranging from 91 to 95 percent and more than half of students achieving mastery in Earth Science, Living Environment and Physics.

Scanlon also reported that 94 percent of the class of 2018 went on to college, while 3 percent went into the workforce. One percent of graduates joined the military, he said.

In other good news, just under half of the class was recognized as Advanced Placement scholars, students who, according to the Advanced Placement website, “have demonstrated outstanding college-level achievement through their performance on AP exams.”

Scanlon also gave an update about the spring 2018 state assessments, administered to students in grades 3 through 8. The assessments tested students on the 2017 Next Generation Standards for English language arts and math. He said the standards have been revised since the rollout of the 2011 Common Core Learning Standards.

Last spring’s testing decreased from three to two days, Scanlon said, adding that since 65 percent of Three Village students opted out of the ELA assessments and 67 percent opted out of math, the scores reflect only about a third of Three Village students in the grades tested.

When compared to nearby districts — Commack, Half Hollow Hills, Harborfields, Hauppauge, Northport, Port Jefferson and Smithtown — Three Village’s fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade students had the highest rates of proficiency on the math assessments, Scanlon said.

The rates of proficiency for grades 3 through 7 in Three Village ranged between 76 and 78 percent and were well above those for Suffolk County and New York State, the assistant superintendent said. Lower levels of proficiency on the eighth-grade math assessments are due to the fact that the majority of the district’s eighth-graders take the algebra Regents instead of the state tests,
he said.

The pass rates for the ELA — 62 to 77 percent proficiency — also exceeded the state averages of 45 percent proficiency.

As of Oct 12, the district had an enrollment of 5,884 students, a slight decline from last year’s 6,131, Scanlon said.

Parents at a rally protest Common Core. File photo by Erika Karp

By Andrea Paldy

After six years of controversy surrounding the adoption and implementation of Common Core and standardized tests associated with it, the New York State Education Department released a new draft of learning standards Sept. 21.

The proposed changes come as the department attempts to respond to ongoing criticism, while maintaining its stated goal of rigor and higher standards for students. The result could mean significant change to both English language arts (ELA) and math learning standards and a greater emphasis on communication with parents, students and educators.

Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services for Three Village said it’s too early to tell whether any of the changes will be fully implemented.

“So far it just seems to be cosmetic pieces,” Scanlon said at the meeting. “However, we need to delve a little further into it to see what potential impact it may have.”

He also said Three Village is providing feedback on the possible changes and will continue to work with the SED.

In a press release announcing the proposed adjustments, the state’s education department said its aim is to ensure that the new standards and their implementation are age-appropriate, particularly in primary grades. The new guidelines also propose additional teacher resources, guidance and professional development.

“These changes reflect what I have heard from parents, teachers and administrators over the past year in my travels across the state,” Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said in a prepared statement.

The draft committees, made up of more than 130 teachers, administrators, parents and college educators, volunteered from all regions of the state. They represent the “Big Five” districts — New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers — as well as urban, suburban and rural districts throughout the state, Elia said. These committees are suggesting that glossaries be used to explain the value and expectations of the education department’s learning standards to all stakeholders.

The ELA draft includes a preface and introduction describing the learning standard’s role within a curriculum. The committee, which worked with a child development expert, proposes more emphasis on the importance of play-based learning in the primary grades. The ELA draft revisions also seek to streamline literary and nonfiction texts across grades, while reorganizing writing standards.

According to the draft document, math standards will be revised to clarify expectations “without limiting instructional flexibility.” Math committees also recommended clarifications to “better understand the goals of the learning standards, Elia said. The revisions seek to “define the progression of skills,” so that there is continuity and a connection from grade to grade. Other changes include creating a balance between skill comprehension, application and performance.

The recommendations of committee members — described by Elia as “dedicated” — are built, in part, on those of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) Common Core Task Force Report published in December, a public survey and feedback from discussions the commissioner had with parents and educators across the state.

The committees also worked with special education and English language teachers to address criticisms that the standards are not suitable for students in those areas.

Parents and others can comment on the draft standards on the department’s website — www.nysed.gov/aimhighny — through Nov. 4.

Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, delivers a presentation. Photo by Andrea Moore Paldy

Enrollment in the Three Village school district has hit a historic low.

That’s some of the news Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, delivered at the district’s second school board meeting in the new school year. His numerical snapshot of the district also included state assessment and Regents scores, as well as statistics for the Class of 2015.

Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, delivers a presentation. Photo by Andrea Moore Paldy
Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, delivers a presentation. Photo by Andrea Moore Paldy

Enrollment, Scanlon said, has been declining steadily by about 200 students each year. Current enrollment is 6,472 compared to 6,723 last school year. With 348 students, this year’s kindergarten is little more than half the size of last year’s graduating class, he said.

Scanlon said, though, that the district is taking advantage of declining enrollment to decrease class sizes in elementary grades and reduce study halls in the secondary schools. In an interview following the meeting, the assistant superintendent added that Three Village has been able to appoint a STEM teacher at each of the elementary schools.

Even as student numbers go down, the poverty rate has climbed a percentage point to 7 percent. Scanlon’s report also indicated that district spending per student has increased from $16,137 to $17,554.

On a more controversial matter, Scanlon reported that the refusal rate in this year’s state tests for third- through eighth-grade students was 58 percent for English language arts and 57 percent for math.

Of those who opted out of ELA this year, 48 percent had passed it in 2014. Those who opted out of math this year and took it in 2014 had a 59 percent pass rate last year.

Though the Three Village 2015 ELA results reflect only 42 percent of students in the testing grades, the pass rate jumped in all grades, increasing between 4.15 and 12.7 percentage points, a comparison of the two years shows. The highest pass rate was 61.9 percent in eighth grade.

The passing rate on the math exams, which reflected 43 percent of students in the grades tested, also saw gains. Fourth grade had the largest increase — 11.16 percentage points — and a 77.2 percent pass rate.

Scanlon said that there was a 3.93 percentage point drop in the eighth-grade math results because the majority of eighth-graders took the Algebra Regents exams instead of the eighth-grade state test.

The 2015 assessment and Regents report showed that all scores in both disciplines were well above the New York state, Long Island, Nassau County and Suffolk County averages. New York state averages for all students were 31.3 percent for ELA and 38.1 percent for math.

When compared to neighboring districts — Commack, Half Hollow Hills, Hauppauge, Northport and Smithtown — Three Village’s ELA scores surpassed other districts in all grades except seventh. Seventh-grade scores were only 0.1 percentage point lower than the second highest-scoring district. Three Village’s math scores were either first or second in all grades, except for eighth.

Algebra students took both the old integrated algebra and the Common Core-aligned Algebra I exams. Scanlon said the higher of the two scores will be used on transcripts. The report showed that except for geometry, there was a dip in the math Regents scores. Pass rates remained high — in the 90s — for science, history and social studies Regents.

In other good news, the class of 2015 maintained the district’s 99 percent graduation rate and had a 95 percent college acceptance rate. This year also saw the highest number of Advanced Placement scholars ever, Scanlon said. The 293 students received the honor based on the number of AP exams they took and their average score, he explained. This number includes current students, as well as those who graduated last June.

In other news, the board voted on two new administrative appointments: Anthony Pollera, who has been a music teacher with the district since 2002, was named coordinating chairperson of music; and Marnie Kula, Ward Melville science chair since 2008, added InSTAR program coordinator to her responsibilities following the retirement of George Baldo.