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LI students’ scores rise on Common Core Regents algebra exam

Algebra students prepare for a Regents exam in

Algebra students prepare for a Regents exam in Center Moriches in 2013. Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

Long Island high-school students are making some headway in passing a rigorous Common Core algebra exam introduced in 2014 in an effort to boost math proficiency, new state data indicates.

School district “report cards” released Monday by the State Education Department show that passage rates on the Common Core Regents Algebra 1 exam rose to 81 percent in Nassau and Suffolk counties during the 2015-16 academic year, compared with 72.5 percent the year before.

Regional success rates were calculated by Newsday, drawing on data provided by the state for more than 90 districts operating high schools.

Albany sets the minimum passing score on all Regents exams at 65 out of 100 possible points. The state had announced six years ago that it was considering an increase in passing scores on algebra exams to 80. But state education officials now are reconsidering that change on grounds that it may pose too many difficulties for students.

Those officials find themselves caught between many parents and teachers across the state, who contend that testing standards are too high, and some national policymakers who report that New York sets a lower standard in comparison with other states.

Michael Cohen, president of Achieve, a Washington-based nonprofit educational agency, told the state’s Board of Regents at its monthly meeting in Albany on Monday that lackluster standards could pose a problem for New York.

As an example, Cohen noted that New York State allows students to earn high-school diplomas after passing just one Regents exam in math — a test set at the first-year algebra level. In contrast, Cohen said, many states set the minimum requirement at the level of an Algebra 2 course.

“I don’t think the policies you have in place now are going to lead to the level of success that all students deserve,” the Achieve executive said.

Achieve has worked jointly with the National Governors Association in promoting Common Core academic and testing standards nationwide.

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