Greenport principal: Nearly half of school ‘mastered’ English regents

03/21/2013 11:05 AM |
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Elementary school principal Joseph Tsaveras (left) presents how students are preparing for state assessments Wednesday night.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Elementary school principal Joseph Tsaveras (left) presents how students are preparing for state assessments Wednesday night.

As Greenport students prepare to take the latest round of state testing, elementary school principal Joseph Tsaveras said nearly half of the school earned ‘mastery’ level — a score of 85 or better — on the English regents exam.

Mr. Tsaveras and high school principal Leonard Skuggevik presented how students and teachers are preparing for state tests at Wednesday night’s school board meeting.

Mr. Tsaveras, who prepares the district’s data, said 41 percent of all students had attained mastery in English, adding that number would likely rise once AP English students took the exam later this spring.

A few students struggled on the test, he said, but noted that all of those students had less than three years of experience speaking English.

Mr. Tsaveras said teachers have been teaching students general concepts they will need to learn, and said the biggest issue has been teaching students what they will need to know for the exams while the state provides few hints about what the test will be like.

“It is playing darts with a moving target blindfolded,” Mr. Tsaveras said.

The math regents has changed as well to emphasize word problems and real-life applications more than straight algebra and numbers, he said.

“It’s not just a simple math problem anymore,” Mr. Skuggevik said. “It’s a reading issue. That whole comprehension on the English side is extremely important for the understanding on the math side.”

The district uses sample questions provided by the state to generate its own questions to prepare students.

The strength of the district’s students is thanks to the preparation by district teachers, Mr. Skuggevik said.

“They’ve been phenominal,” he said of the teachers.

School board president Heather Wolf said she was encouraged not just by the district’s preparations, but also by the tests themselves that she said seem to emphasize practical education instead of rote memorization.

“As annoying as all this testing is, I must say — at least with the work I’ve seen my kids do — a lot of it is much more practical that when we were growing up,” she said.

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