WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - The release of state standardized math and English Language Arts (ELA) tests Tuesday only confirmed to Tom McTeigue, 47, why he is "totally satisfied" that he has two children enrolled in the White Plain School District.
"The schools are good,” he said.
However, McTeigue pointed out that the District has many students for whom English is their second Language, which he said could be one reason why White Plains' scores often lagged behind Westchester County's.
As expected, the scores statewide and in many districts were lower than two years ago, when the state made the tests more rigorous. In grades three through eight, 52.8 percent of New York students met or exceeded the ELA standards and 63.3 percent met or exceeded the math standards.
Breaking White Plains scores down by grade shows local schools fared slightly worse than Westchester at large.
The percentages of students who received a three or four on the math test -- meeting or exceeding the state standards -- are broken down by grade below:
* In third grade, 58 percent of White Plains students got a three or four versus 68.3 percent of Westchester students.
* In fourth grade, 66.6 percent of local students met or exceeded the standards versus 74 percent of their county counterparts.
* In fifth grade, 60.1 percent of White Plains students performed sufficiently compared to 72.7 percent of Westchester fifth graders.
* In sixth grade, 69.4 percent of White Plains kids scored a three or four compared to 69 percent of Westchester students.
* In seventh grade, 69.9 percent of local students met or exceeded standards compared to 70 percent of their countywide counterparts.
* In eighth grade, 71.5 percent of students performed sufficiently versus 65.9 percent of Westchester eighth graders.
White Plains students fared worse on the ELA test:
* In third grade, 57.2 percent of students received a three or four compared to 66.4 percent of Westchester students.
* In fourth grade, 56.3 percent of local students met or exceeded standards versus 68 percent of Westchester fourth graders.
* In fifth grade, 52.6 percent of White Plains kids scored at or above state expectations compared to 64.5 percent of fifth graders countywide.
* In sixth grade, 59 percent of local students earned a three or four versus 66.5 percent of fifth graders in Westchester.
* In seventh grade, 52.3 percent of White Plains kids scored sufficiently on the test compared to 59.2 percent of seventh graders in Westchester.
* In eighth grade, 52.7 percent of local students met or exceeded state standards compared to 59.2 percent of students in the county.
Jessica O’Donovan, the White Plains Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, said the district was pleased with how quickly new teaching methods had raised scores and confident test results would continue to rise.
"We're happy that we're starting to see positive gains," O'Donovan said of the increase in third, fourth, and sixth grade ELA scores and improvements in fourth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade math scores. "We've been focusing very heavily on using data. We have early release days about twice a month, which gives teachers the time to sit together and develop common assessments and then analyze the data together and then develop action plans based on that data. We’re going into year two of that."
White Plains also recently debuted an intervention block system where children are regrouped by their skill level for 40 minutes a day, allowing teachers to focus on enrichment and intervention for struggling kids. According to O'Donovan, local middle schools and the high school are also beginning reading intervention programs.
"We’re not done until we have 100 percent, so obviously we have work to do. And we’re ready to step up and continue to work hard to do it and make sure that every student is prepared to meet and ultimately succeed the new more rigorous state standards," said O'Donovan.
Do you have kids in the White Plains School District? What do you think of local schools? What are your thoughts on the state scores? Email thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll include your responses in future coverage.