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State data shows Riverhead scored below county average on ELA, math assessments

Riverhead Central School District achieved below average proficiency levels for Suffolk County on the English Language Arts and math assessments given in April and May, according to state data.

Countywide, roughly 44% of students in grades 3 through 8 who took the math exam were rated proficient, meaning they scored a Level 3 or better. Proficiency in the ELA test was achieved by about 42% of Suffolk students tested, according to the New York State Education Department.

Of the 1,721 Riverhead students who took the 2019 math exam, about 23% were deemed proficient. Approximately 1,792 students took the ELA exam, with 22% achieving proficiency.

Compared to last year’s scores, these results are mixed. In 2018, 22% of Riverhead students performed at or above Level 3 on the ELA — the same as this year. However, math proficiency in the district dropped slightly from 2018, when 25% of the 1,592 students who took the exam were proficient.

Christine Tona, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said by email Wednesday that upon inspection of the data, “there are areas of growth and areas that need additional attention.”

“We are committed to continue to cultivate growth and are excited about our new curriculum programs and how they better meet the needs of our diverse learners,” she said.

Riverhead Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez said in an email statement that, this year, Riverhead teachers, leaders and staff are committed to “the long haul,” which will tackle some of the academic challenges.

In recent years, Dr. Henriquez said, the district has increased community and student outreach by expanding the Mobile School Pantry with Long Island Cares, offering STEM programs with help from the Stony Brook School of Medicine and partnering with Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office.

“We know that change does not happen overnight,” she said. “It takes consistency, hard work and collaboration. As a district, we are making strides and moving forward in the right direction.”

In the Shoreham-Wading River district, student scores on both tests exceeded Suffolk County averages for the second year in a row. Of the students tested this year, 54% were proficient in ELA and 66% demonstrated proficiency in math.

Superintendent Gerard Poole said in an email that assessment results are used by instructional staff each year to review and improve educational programs and individual student services.

“Last year, our students continued to excel academically, artistically and athletically on a variety of measures,” he said.

Students attending the Riverhead Charter School also performed higher than Suffolk County averages. Approximately 68% scored at proficient levels in English and 62% in math. However, fewer than 250 students took both exams in the small district.

Superintendent Raymond Ankrum said in an email that he wants to congratulate charter school teachers, staff and administrators for their “hard work and dedication to the students.”

“As a school, we will continue to focus on our students’ individual needs, while creating learning opportunities that cater towards all modalities of learning,” he said. “Our kids are brilliant, and the higher we raise the bar for them, the more resilient they become.”

According to state information, the ELA and math assessments measure the higher learning standards that were adopted by the State Board of Regents in 2010.

State statistics showed that 948,606 students took the math exam. Of those students, 47% met the state’s proficiency standard. Approximately 987,398 students took the ELA exam and 45% of students were proficient.

With increasing student enrollment, a growing number of students receiving free and reduced-price lunch and an expanding number of students with special needs, Dr. Henriquez said Riverhead cannot be compared with surrounding districts.

“There is no test that can measure a student’s love for coming to school,” she said. “We all want a rich, rigorous curriculum and social and emotional support for all students, with enough funding to hire more guidance counselors, teachers and staff to meet the needs of all.”

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