Sag Harbor Students Score Above Average On State Tests

Pierson Middle-High School

Sag Harbor School District administrators gave the Sag Harbor Board of Education a district-wide analysis of student performance on state tests at the board’s Monday, November 4, meeting.

Pierson Middle School Principal Brittany Carriero and Sag Harbor Elementary School Principal Matthew Malone gave a detailed presentation about their students’ New York State English Language Arts and math assessments for grades three to eight.
“We are achieving higher than the New York State average,” Ms. Carriero said as she pointed to slides on a Smartboard.

Parents are able to opt their children out of taking the state tests, but this year, Ms. Carriero explained, the opt-out percentage was much lower than in recent years. Students performed better on the ELA in 2019 than in prior years. For example, the proficiency percentage for third-graders went from 62 percent in 2018 to 75 percent in 2019. The proficiency percentage is the percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher. In grade eight, in 2018, 54 percent of students scored 3 or above, while in 2019, 65 percent scored 3 or more.

The Sag Harbor School District also placed above the New York State average for ELA tests. For example, 38 percent of fifth-graders statewide scored a 3 or above, while in Sag Harbor, 51 percent of fifth-graders performed as well.

Math assessments were above the New York State average, except for in fifth and eighth grade, in part because many eighth-graders opted out of taking the math assessment. Fifth grade was just a few points below the average.

“The middle school ELA department has been meeting to dig into the data,” Ms. Carriero said. “We can actually individualize what areas we need to focus on within our teaching. Teachers can piggyback off of each other; what worked in their class, what didn’t work, and what they want help with.”

Mr. Malone said the assessments give the school a chance to see which students would benefit from tutoring, and which need to better understand test-taking strategies.
Sag Harbor also looks at high-achieving districts such as Manhasset, Great Neck and Cold Spring Harbor to see what practices they implement to keep scores up.

“We know every student. We sit in grade teams going over each student score seeing where they’ve grown and where they haven’t. We’re able to print out the data from years past. It also helps our teaching and instruction to individualize it more,” Ms. Carriero said.
Pierson High School had extremely high passing rates for each of the Regents exams this year. Ninety-five percent of the students passed the earth science Regents, while 100 percent passed chemistry and physics.

In addition to the Regents, high school Principal Jeff Nichols said, over an eight-year period, the high school went from having one Advanced Placement course to having 13 AP courses.

A few years ago, district administrators decided to move from AP classes to the International Baccalaureate program because they felt the IB education track would provide more opportunities for students, Mr. Nichols said.

“The decision we have to make moving forward is: Do we want to continue to offer all of these AP course?” he said, as enrollment has been decreasing a bit for AP classes due to the IB track.

In the 2018-19 school year, 70 percent of students in 11th and 12th grade were taking at least one IB course.