Statement by Michael Cohen on Release of New York State Assessment Results

Wednesday, August 7, 2013Printer-friendly version

In today's knowledge-based economy postsecondary success demands higher skills and some postsecondary education or training. With the release of new assessment results, New York State is taking an important step to transforming the mission of K-12 education to that of preparing all students to be college and career ready by insisting that they be academically prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary career training programs and 2- and 4-year colleges. These new assessments begin to provide students and parents accurate information so they can tell if they are on track academically to meet real world demands after high school. 

After decades of testing against internally focused expectations, students are now being tested against the academic standards necessary for success in the settings they will enter after high school.

New York is a pioneer. It is one of the first states, along with Kentucky, to implement new assessments designed to be aligned with the Common Core State Standards. The results show that students and schools in New York State have some considerable distance to go. This is not a surprise. It is consistent with national data showing that fewer than 40% of students nationally meet college-ready benchmarks and NAEP proficiency standards. While many high school graduates of New York schools are well prepared for postsecondary success, too many are required to take and pay tuition for remedial courses, or can gain entry-level jobs but lack the preparation and skills to advance in a career.

This is not a cause for alarm. It is not a reason to back away from standards, assessments and accountability. Instead, it is reason for state education leaders, local school boards and educators - including teachers, principals and local administrators - and higher education institutions, to work together and double down on efforts to systematically improve classroom instruction. New York State is continuing to develop an impressive set of curriculum materials and instructional and professional development tools aligned to the Common Core State Standards to support classroom implementation statewide. This is an important step among many still to come as improvements in instruction will not happen overnight. Because of the widespread adoption of the Common Core, the supply of high quality instructional and professional development materials from a variety of sources in and outside of New York State will steadily increase and improve over time. Teachers and school leaders must be given the ongoing support and time, to work together to continuously improve instruction. And like many other states, New York will be working to improve the quality of state assessments so they better support the rich and engaging instruction the standards demand.

This is also reason for business leaders, employers, and colleges and universities to strengthen their support for standards and assessments. This means helping students, parents and the public - often starting with their own employees - understand that the skills called for in the standards are the ones that will best prepare students for to have career options and postsecondary opportunities. It also means insisting on and supporting robust and sustained implementation statewide.


Many will debate the appropriateness of particular accountability and implementation policies, but there is no denying that students are ultimately the ones who are held accountable for their performance once they leave high school. If educators, parents, state officials and business and higher education leaders work together to improve instruction, test scores will steadily improve. More importantly, a generation of students in New York will be prepared for a lifetime of opportunities. 

Media Contact: Chad Colby (202) 419-1570

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