The state released results for the new and tougher New York State Common Core test last week and PS 122 in Astoria rose to the top.
The tests were harder this year and as expected students did not score as well as they had in the past. Statewide just 31 percent of third- through eighth-graders tested at or above proficiency in math — a drop of more than 20 percent — and 31.1 percent for English. In city schools, those numbers were 29.6 percent and 26.4 percent, respectively.
The new results will set a baseline for future students to strive toward.
However, children at PS 122, a prekindergarten through eighth-grade school, scored 40 percent above those averages with 71 percent at or above proficient in math and 69.7 percent in English.
“One doesn’t do this alone,” Principal Pamela Sabel said. “It takes families. It takes the community.”
In addition to teamwork, Sabel gives credit to a curriculum that is closely paired with the Common Core and rigorous professional development.
“But this is just the baseline,” she said. “There is more work to be done.”
In recent years standardized testing has become a larger part of public schools — a point of contention for some.
“There’s too much pressure on test scores,” said Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), who visited PS 122 on Tuesday to congratulate students and staff. Vallone and his father, who as a youngster was recognized by the school for having “100 percent teeth,” both attended PS 122.
“There’s too much testing,” parent Angie Migias said.
The students prepared for the test by reviewing old exams and lots of homework, Migias said.
But despite emphasis on the Common Core, PS 122 hasn’t forgotten other programs such as music and gym.
The school partners with The Little Orchestra Society to teach music composition to first- and second-graders and, for its older students, there’s Project Citizen where students travel to City Hall to advocate for issues that matter to them.
“I like gym class because it’s lots of exercise and it’s fun to play,” said fourth-grader Sophia, adding her favorite game involves tag with lots of colorful Nerf balls.
Her brothers Andrea, a seventh-grader, and Anastasi, a second-grader, attend PS 122’s Gifted & Talented program. In the spring the Department of Education withdrew its plan to downsize the highly rated G&T curriculum, after years of town halls and opposition letters from politicians, parents and staff.
“It is ironic that the city wanted to make major changes at this school a few months ago, and now these kids have blown away the city averages,” Vallone said. “These scores are a testament to the hard work of the teachers, students and parents, and they prove that the programs at PS 122 need to be mirrored in schools across the city.”