New York officials are preparing for the expected decline in test scores as it becomes one of the few states to align this year’s tests with the Common Core State Standards. Officials in Florida, Georgia and Kentucky have reported lower scores since the implementation of the common core. The New York State United Teachers questions the decision to test students on the new standards so soon after their introduction in classrooms. 

State tests for elementary and middle school students are two months away, but teachers, administrators and state education officials already agree on one point: Scores are going to drop.

The math and English language arts tests for children in third through eighth grades will be starkly different from tests given in years past. They are designed for a new set of standards that many districts are just beginning to introduce in their classrooms.

“Will the scores drop?” said Ken Slentz, deputy commissioner of P-12 education for the state Education Department. “It would be naive to think otherwise.”

The state’s largest teachers union has blasted what it says is a rush to the new exams, saying neither teachers nor students are ready.

“You’re basically putting the assessments before the curriculum, and every good teacher knows that’s the wrong thing to do,” said Richard Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers.

The tests are aligned with new Common Core standards that 46 states have adopted. The standards are intended to raise the bar for student achievement to the same level in schools across the country.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan made the adoption of the Common Core a requirement of his Race to the Top grant competition. New York adopted the standards early – part of the reason it won a $700 million grant.

In English language arts, there is a focus on understanding and writing about complex, non-fiction texts. In math, the emphasis is on deeper understanding of concepts and their practical application. The new tests will include more difficult reading passages, more complicated math problems and more open-ended questions that require students to go into depth in their answers.

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