State tests show VCSD ahead of peers but hurt by pandemic

— From the Voorheesville Central School District

On state testing, Voorheesville’s third- through eighth-grade students have done better than their peers, but they aren’t back to pre-pandemic levels. 

NEW SCOTLAND — For Voorheesville’s third- through eighth-grade students, the results of the state’s annual math and English tests were, as they usually are, broadly positive.

But the pandemic has also taken a toll on students’ test scores, as the 2022 math and English numbers were generally lower than they were pre-coronavirus. 

Overall, 576 students in grades three through eight were tested in English, according to data from the state; 86 didn’t test. And 68 percent of all students who tested were deemed proficient. Across the state, about 47 percent of third- through eighth-graders were proficient in English

In math, of the 576 Voorheesville students in grades three through eight, 85 did not test, according to the state data, while 64 percent of all students who tested were deemed proficient. Statewide, about 39 percent of third- through eighth-graders were proficient.

According to the district, the participation rate for grades three through five was around 90 percent or little above. For grades six and seven it dropped to about 80 percent. And for eighth grade, English participation was 66 percent while math was 41 percent — low math participation was attributed to students taking the Regents test for algebra.

For comparison, “we were able to get the data from a number of low-needs districts in our region,” Director of Curriculum Karen Conroy said during the Nov. 7 board of education meeting. 

Superintendent Frank Macri said a low-needs district has a high-wealth ratio.

“The higher the wealth ratio that you have in your community, the lower needs your district is considered,” Macri said; Voorheesville has a high-wealth ratio and is considered a low-needs district.

In English proficiency, for grades four, seven, and eight, Voorheesville was the top-performing school among the other five low-need districts with which it was compared — Bethlehem, Burnt Hills, Guilderland, Niskayuna, and North Colonie — Conroy said during the Nov. 7 board of education meeting. 

For math, Voorheesville was tops for grades four and seven, Conroy said, and second for fifth grade and sixth grade. 

Of 74 students with a disability, 19 didn’t test in math and 16 did not take the English test. Of the 58 third- through eighth-graders with a disability who tested in English, eight were proficient. For the 55 math test-takers, six were proficient.

Of the 71 total economically-disadvantaged students in grades three through eight, 50 took the math test and 25 were proficient, while 53 tested in English and 25 were deemed proficient. 

Voorheesville was in line with and often ahead of its peers on standardized testing, but, following national as well as state-wide trends, still below its pre-pandemic numbers. 

In the case of third-graders, for example, students who’ve never sat for a standardized, or “high stakes,” test, in Macri’s words, it’s easy to see why they’re 2022 scores are lower than those of pre-pandemic third-graders.

In 2022, about 59 percent of Voorheesville third-graders were proficient in math and about 63 percent in English. Math proficiency in the three years prior to the pandemic, 2017 to 2019, was never lower than 76 percent, while English proficiency was as low as about 63 percent but as high as 86 percent. 

Grades four through eight also saw swings in proficiency with pre- and post-pandemic testing. 

Fourth-grade math and English proficiency were both in the high 60s this year; math between 2017 and 2019 was never below 75 percent and was as high as 88 percent, while English proficiency ebbed a bit more, on par with this year twice and once being over 85 percent. 

Conroy said during the Nov. 7 meeting that school districts across the state were “not counting 2021” test scores. “Because that was a: Take it if you’re here, take it if you want” scenario; “the state really wasn’t pushing that, encouraging that,” she said.

Fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-grade math proficiency all hovered in the low- to mid-60s this year. Only once between 2017 and 2019 in each grade did proficiency drop below 2022 percentage. English has been more up and down, with 80-percent proficiency in seventh and eighth grades in 2022, and a fair amount of proficiency in the 60s in years past.

More New Scotland News

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.