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ELA test scores moving up for more Buffalo students

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Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

Buffalo Public Schools say they are making progress in improving academic achievement, at a time when Albany is making things more difficult by changing tests and curriculum.

It's complicated. That's the best description of what's going on academically. Schools across the state just received their test scores from the spring and the notice from the State Education Department that the results aren't comparable with last year's tests.

Beyond that, Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash notes the curriculum changes that are underway and wants some stabilization for teachers and students.

"At some point, colleagues, we've gotta stabilize this thing for students' sake and for teachers' sake," Cash told School Board members recently. "It is very difficult to teach and learn in an environment where every 2-3 years they are changing the standards. Just crazy - and these do not compare to state to state to state to state."

Once the test scores were in, the district decided to study ELA scores for grades 3-8, focusing on proficiency. The scores are supposed to show strong achievement and readiness for college.

Chief Accountability Officer Genelle Morris said more and more kids are moving into the top two categories.

"In our Level 3 group, an increase of students who were scoring at Level 3, and that was an increase of 561 students," said Morris, "and in our most advanced group, which is the Level 4 group, we had an increase of 266 students for a total of 877 students."

Cash said the results of the test are good, but a long way from the goal of 85 percent in levels 2-4. There are also some groups that fill the bottom categories, especially immigrants coming from other languages, some of which have no written forms.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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