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More from Commissioner King on the state test results


The Buffalo News had four reporters devoted to gathering information about the state's standardized test results on Thursday. Here's some additional information from State Education Commissioner John King that didn't make the paper:

* State Education Commissioner King noted that New York City came closest among the Big Five districts in meeting the state averages, particularly in math. Students considered proficient scored 34.5 percent in math, just 1 point shy of the state average, and 29.4 percent were considered proficient in English, just 2 percent points below the state. The commissioner attributed some of New York City’s success to their earlier preparation work for the Common Core.

* King described the abysmal performance of English language learners on the state tests as "very worrying" and said the state is petitioning the U.S. Dept. of Education for permission to delay these students' requirement to take the state standardized English test beyond the current one-year exemption.

* King and Ken Wagner, deputy commissioner for curriculum, assessment, and educational technology, dismissed claims that students who opted out of the state assessment tests were high achievers whose lack of participation depressed the test scores.

A state review showed that those who took the tests in 2013 but opted out of the tests in 2014 covered the entire performance spectrum, he said. Claims that only high achievers opted out are “not true,” Wagner said.

* King took extra time Thursday to point out that while a relationship generally exists between achievement and poverty, there are still many schools in the state that buck the trend. He referred to two charts showing a number of schools that are considered high poverty, yet had high performance in English and math.

“What are those schools doing?” King said. “What are the instructional practices at those schools and how do we share those?”

Learning and sharing that information is a key to providing better information and support to schools statewide.

* Although the state used comparative test results that included only those students who took the state standardized tests this year as well as last year in the previous grade, King said that when looking at year-to-year results overall, and including all students who took the test in either 2013 or 2014, the math results would have been even higher for this year, while the English results would have shown relatively little difference.

About the reporters

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News' NeXt section.

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.