Niagara Gazette

Lewiston

July 29, 2013

Lew-Port Middle School administrators trying to turn around state testing results

Niagara Gazette — Life, it turns out, isn’t quite so rosy at Lewiston-Porter Middle School. At least, not for the the district’s administration.

Coming off some of the roughest years in the front office, the school’s report card suffered some distinct shortfalls as students were unable to meet certain benchmarks in both English Language Arts and mathematics testing in 2011-12.

Though current principal Dean Ramirez was a member of the Maryvale School District while students took these tests, the leader refused to shirk responsibility, saying he’s responsible for making sure the school rebounds going forward.

“We can spend hours pointing fingers and assigning blame,” Ramirez said after revealing the test scores to the district’s school board this past week. “I’d rather lead as we move forward. I think this district has tremendous teachers who are capable of teaching this information and the students are more than capable, as it shows when they get to the high school, of succeeding.”

Part of the problem stems from circumstances completely out of the control of educators. Before issuing tests in 2010-11, New York state changed the grading scale of its math and English standardized tests. In other words, the new tests were to be graded on a curve designed to lower performance, not increase it.

What happened in every district was the same, as numbers went way down in both subject areas, qualifying new students for academic intervention and making progress charts for students in each grade level plunge to new lows.

With the new curve, though, came new ways of analyzing the data to keep schools from losing their “good standing” status if they carried such a thing. Districts like Lew-Port, which typically saw scores of three or four – adequate and mastery – on these tests would have found itself in a similar situation as districts like Niagara Falls, standings-wise.

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