Updated at 7:16 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 7:
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – The State Education Department released its results for math and English Language Arts exams for grades three through eight on Wednesday.
The education department says the percentage of students whose results were deemed proficient statewide were significantly lower than last year.
The department stressed that the outcome was not a result of decreases in performance among schools or students.
They say the outcome was largely because of the new Common Core standards, which are national education standards adopted by New York and most other states in the country.
The education department says the Common Core standards 'more accurately reflect students’ progress toward college and career readiness."
“It's a tough day to sit here and see those results,” said Syracuse City School District Superintendent Sharon Contreras.
Contreras’ sentiments are shared by superintendents across New York State.
The Common Core testing results released today were disappointing, but not shocking for most educators, who say the intense new curriculum was a seismic shift in learning standards.
“In the urban school districts many of our students are behind, so when you add to that a more rigorous curriculum the gap widens,” Contreras said.
Across the “Big Five” city school districts in the state, Syracuse was the fourth lowest performing district with only 8.7 percent of students meeting or exceeding the English Language Arts proficiency standard and 6.9 percent meeting the math standard.
“It’s very low but consistent with the other urban school districts in the state, certainly we have a lot of work to do, but we feel we are on the right track,” Contreras said.
The results for them, like many, are simply baseline data that will be used to refine their work in the district, which means they will improve instruction to make sure it’s Common-Core aligned - and develop new programs to make sure students are college and career ready.
“We have tutoring in the middle schools and we have intervention courses in the high schools and we're also providing additional career and technical education,” Contreras said.
In the West Genesee School District, between 28 and 63 percent of the students tested met the new state standards.
Those numbers reflect students being tested on materials they’ve never seen, according to district officials, since New York State chose to implement and test in the same year.
“I’m frustrated for my teachers, for my administrators and my students because I had students walk away and say there was material they hadn't seen before and that's not a blame on them because they didn't get the materials and that has to change,” said Superintendent Chris Brown.
The state education department says there will not be any new “Focus Districts” or “Priority Schools" this year.
And because of the new standards, the Board of Regents asked the department to adjust its requirements for academic intervention services as well.
Parents will receive their child's score within the next month. Some districts say they will set up parent-teacher conferences to find ways to help students improve.
The department compiled complete lists of results, breaking them down according to each county and each district