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How Long Island colleges stack up

U.S. News & World Report, in its 2019 “Best Colleges” rankings, examined data from about 1,800 universities and colleges nationwide.

The rankings are devised from hundreds of data points, including up to 16 measures of academic quality, according to U.S. News. They include data on students’ social mobility and emphasize outcomes. This year, school acceptance rates were dropped from the factors used in determining the rankings.

The U.S. News rankings first were released in 1983. Through the years, they have received mixed reviews from administrators at colleges and universities.

Here are the top finishers among Long Island’s public and private four-year colleges ranked in the report. Not all of the Island’s institutions were ranked.

National Universities

No. 80 Stony Brook University (with five others)

No. 140 Hofstra University (with six others)

No. 147 Adelphi University (with four others)

Regional Universities (North)

No. 25 Molloy College (with two others)

No. 50 New York Institute of Technology (with two others)

No. 62 St. Joseph’s College (with four others)

No. 120 LIU Post (with two others)

Regional Colleges (North)

No. 3 U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

No. 19 Farmingdale State College (with one other)

Top Public, National Universities

No. 32 Stony Brook University (with three others)

Top Public, Regional Colleges North

No. 2 U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

No. 9 Farmingdale State College (with one other)

Best Value, National Universities

No. 77 Hofstra University

No. 86 Adelphi University (with one other)

No. 118 Stony Brook University

What advice would you give a high schooler graduating today?

Don’t be afraid to fall in love?

See the world while you have the time?

Skip the avocado toast so you can afford to retire?

The Class of 2018 leaves their high school lives behind this week to embark on the first real stage of adulthood. What advice would you give to an 18-year-old about to start their journey?

Click on the boxes below to read the full responses from other readers.

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Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s report on statistics and trends in New York school systems offers a look at how Long Island schools stack up against eight peer regions around the state.

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Of Long Island’s $11.7B in school revenues come from property taxes, the most in the state


Statewide average

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Of school revenues in “North Country” come from property taxes, the lowest in the state

Highest graduation rate, 90%, and lowest dropout rate, 1.2%

Graduates who plan to attend a four-year college, 60%

Fewest buildings considered poor or unsatisfactory, 2%

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Most students with limited English proficiency, 7%

Fewest high-need students: 8.5% in poverty, 30% eligible for free lunch

School safety, 0.8 incidents per 1,000 students

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Long Island 2017 high school graduations

Class of 2017's Extraordinary Seniors

Big dreams

Class of 2017's Extraordinary Seniors

12 incredible high school students. 12 inspiring lives. 12 extraordinary futures.
Get to know these standout seniors through video profiles.

Meet 142 of LI's 2017 valedictorians


Meet 142 of LI's 2017 valedictorians

See which valedictorians are bound for the Ivy League, who is staying on Long Island and who is still undecided.

And meet 138 of the salutatorians


And meet 138 of the salutatorians

See who will major in STEM-related fields, who earned distinctions in AP exams and who excelled in music and art.

Class of 2017 graduation ceremonies

Next chapter

Class of 2017 graduation ceremonies

Members of the Class of 2017 are receiving their diplomas and tossing their caps in the air as their high school education comes to a close.

LI's top students come together

Valedictorians visit Newsday

LI's top students come together

Dozens of valedictorians came to Newsday on May 12, 2017, to celebrate their accomplishments.

What's the hardest part of being a valedictorian?


What's the hardest part of being a valedictorian?

Long Island's valedictorians share the challenges they faced on their way to becoming top of the class.

Long Island's Class of 2017


Long Island's Class of 2017

See the names of graduates from every Long Island high school.

Where are 2007's valedictorians now?

Looking back

Where are 2007's valedictorians now?

See how the past 10 years have treated these valedictorians.

LI senior superlatives through the years


LI senior superlatives through the years

Which famous comedian was voted class clown?

18 celebrities who were valedictorians


18 celebrities who were valedictorians

Smart actors, singers, models and more.

LI Class of 2017 college commitments


LI Class of 2017 college commitments

Where are LI's top athletes heading next year?

Celebrity superlatives


Celebrity superlatives

Which movie stars were voted Least Likely to Succeed?

Great gifts to send grads into the world


Great gifts to send grads into the world

It's the time of year when relatives are wracking their brains for suitable gift ideas.

Famous LI alumni


Famous LI alumni

Who are the most famous grads from your high school?

How would you do on this year's science Regents?


How would you do on this year's science Regents?

See how you'd fare on the January 2017 Living Environment Regents.

Try a 30-year-old history Regents exam


Try a 30-year-old history Regents exam

You may remember what you wore to the prom that year, but can you remember anything about the rise of the feudal system in Europe?

Valedictorian Submission

As part of Newsday’s special section on the Class of 2018, we will publish a photo and the biographical information of each valedictorian and salutatorian on Long Island in Newsday and on

This form can be used to submit information for both valedictorians and salutatorians. Please submit one form per student. If your school has more than one valedictorian or salutatorian, simply submit another form. You will receive a confirmation email upon completion of each individual student’s submission.

For changes, questions or comments, please call Kim Fiorio, manager of Newsday’s editorial support staff at Newsday, at 631-843-4813. Please note that the email will no longer be used for this project.

Before you submit, please read the following:

  • Forms for all students must be completed and received by Tuesday May 1, 2018.
  • You should confirm all the information for this form with each student or their parents before submitting.
  • If your students are awarded a title other than valedictorian or salutatorian (Honor speaker, etc.), you may write that title in below.
  • All entries must be filled out in their entirety at the time of submission. You will not be able to save the information.
  • Once the form is submitted we will not accept changes unless it involves the student’s college or projected major. If you do not have the college and projected major by the May 1 deadline, please contact Kim Fiorio as soon as possible and we will update our information. Do not submit another form for corrections.
  • This form can also be accessed anytime at Links to all graduation forms and event information, including extraordinary seniors, class lists and Newsday’s valedictorians event RSVP can also be found at

Thank you for your help at a busy time of year.

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Education trends: Long Island vs. New York State

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s report on statistics and trends in New York school systems offers a look at how Long Island schools stack up against eight peer regions around the state.

“By examining regional comparisons and trends in school district revenues, expenditures and student demographics, we can better inform the decisions of state lawmakers, education stakeholders and taxpayers,” DiNapoli said.

In general, the report shows that Long Island relies most on property taxes, spends more per pupil, graduates the highest percentage of students, ranks highest for proportion of students with limited English proficiency, and ranks lowest for reports of violent incidents and possession of weapons.

Here’s a look at how Long Island compares with the eight other regions in New York state, excluding New York City, for the 2014-2015 school year.

Property tax revenues

Total state school district revenues in 2014-15 were $37.7 billion; the funds come from federal and state aid, STAR revenues, and local revenue in the form of property taxes, all of which vary by region. Long Island leads the state in percent of total school revenue that comes from property taxes.


Of Long Island’s $11.7B in school revenues come from property taxes, the most in the state


Statewide average


Of school revenues in “North Country” come from property taxes, the lowest in the state

Per-pupil spending

The Long Island, Mid-Hudson Valley and Capital District regions tend to be the wealthier areas statewide, based on both property and income wealth per pupil, the report said. Statewide, the median school district expenditure per pupil in 2014-15 was $22,658. The report also notes regional cost differences. With that adjustment taken into account, Long Island’s per-pupil spending is second lowest in the state.

Where the money goes

Of Long Island’s $11.71 billion in total spending in 2014-15, a majority ($6.6 billion, or 56.3%) went toward instructional spending, slightly higher than the statewide average of 53.6%. Here’s a breakdown of LI’s total expenditures:

Topping the charts

According to DiNapoli’s office, Long Island led the nine regions in:

Highest graduation rate, 90%, and lowest dropout rate, 1.2%

Graduates who plan to attend a four-year college, 60%

Most students with limited English proficiency, 7%

Fewest high-need students: 8.5% in poverty, 30% eligible for free lunch

School safety, 0.8 incidents per 1,000 students

Fewest buildings considered poor or unsatisfactory, 2%

Dwindling numbers

Total enrollment in the nine regions has fallen since the previous study 10 years earlier, though total enrollment on Long Island has dropped at a less dramatic pace on Long Island.


A history of Dowling College Founded in 1955 as an expansion of Adelphi University and established as an independent institution in 1968, Dowling College announced in May 2016 that it would close. Published: June 3, 2016

01 January 1970

A fire badly damages the college’s Vanderbilt mansion, the institution’s main building. It is later rebuilt.

01 January 1970

Norman Smith, who was credited with bringing Wagner College on Staten Island back from the brink of closure in the late 1980s, becomes Dowling president.

01 January 1970

[vid videotype="brightcove" size="full" caption="Dowling in financial trouble'" headline="" credit="Ed Betz" href="05232016_Greg_Dowling_closed_doors_Betz" thumb="!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/display_960/image.jpg" popout="no" showads="no”]

The deal with the academic partner stalls, a state senator announces.

01 January 1970

Dowling says it will affiliate with an unnamed academic partner to remain afloat.

01 January 1970

Dowling’s faculty union approves $4.7 million in contract givebacks to help close the 2014-15 budget gap.

01 January 1970

Dowling agrees to pay more than $400,000 to Gaffney in a settlement of his lawsuit against the Oakdale school.

01 January 1970

Standard & Poor’s Rating Services indicates a poor outlook for Dowling, dropping its long-term debt rating from B to B-minus.

01 January 1970

Inserra is pictured, center, on June 14, 2002. (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Dowling names Albert F. Inserra, chairman of Dowling’s doctoral program in educational administration, leadership and technology, to be the college’s chief.

01 January 1970

Moody’s says the school is “likely in or very near default” on bonds issued by the industrial development agencies of Suffolk County and the Town of Brookhaven.

01 January 1970

In recent weeks, Dowling lays off staff members and reassigns others in a downsizing because of declining enrollment and struggling finances.

01 January 1970

The board of trustees names Elana Zolfo interim president.

01 January 1970

Astronaut Wally Schirra opens the college’s new transportation campus in Shirley.

01 January 1970

The Dowling campus in Oakdale on Aug. 5, 2010. (Credit: Michael E. Ach)

Moody’s Investors Service downgrades $14.1 million of Dowling’s already junk-rated bonds.

01 January 1970

Dr. Jeremy D. Brown gives the commencement speech at Dowling on May 19, 2012. (Credit: Heather Walsh)

Jeremy D. Brown, the former head of Edinboro University in Edinboro, Pa., begins his tenure as Dowling’s president.

01 January 1970

Facing outrage from students and employees over an announcement the previous week, Dowling says its aviation school will remain open. It had said it would stop training pilots to focus on aviation-management classes.

01 January 1970

Gaffney resigns and is succeeded by Scott Rudolph, a trustee.

01 January 1970

Gaffney is pictured on Sept. 19, 2002. (Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas)

Robert Gaffney, the former Suffolk County executive, becomes Dowling president.

01 January 1970

A late-night vote by the faculty on a new contract ensures that professors will be in the classroom for the first day of the fall semester.

01 January 1970

Victor Meskill, one of the longest-tenured college presidents on Long Island, is forced out by the board of trustees, who in previous years had lavished on him a large salary and a host of pricey fringe benefits that included a house near the campus and a personal loan so that Meskill could buy a condominium in Montauk.

01 January 1970

Five top administrators are fired as part of a reorganization plan.

01 January 1970

A student carries his belongings as he leaves Dowling College on June 1, 2016. (Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara)

Dowling announces it is shutting down.

Long Island’s class of 2016

Long Island has 39,910 high school seniors preparing to graduate in the coming weeks. Select a school from the list below to see the senior class there and to leave a congratulatory message for any individual in the comments.

Amityville Memorial High School Babylon Junior Senior High School Baldwin Senior High School Bay Shore High School Bayport / Blue Point High School Bellport High School Bethpage High School Brentwood High School Bridgehampton School Sanford H. Calhoun High School Carle Place Middle Senior High School Center Moriches High School Centereach High School Central Islip High School Chaminade High School Cold Spring Harbor Junior Senior High School Commack High School Comsewogue High School Connetquot Senior High School Crescent School Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School Deer Park High School Division Ave High School Earl L. Vandermeulen High School East Hampton High School East Islip High School East Meadow High School East Rockaway Junior Senior High School Eastport-South Manor Junior Senior High School Elmont Memorial Junior Senior High School Elwood – John Glenn High School Farmingdale Senior High School Fishers Island School Floral Park Memorial Junior Senior High School Freeport High School Friends Academy Garden City Senior High School General Douglas MacArthur High School George W Hewlett High School Glen Cove High School Great Neck South High School Greenport High School H. Frank Carey High School Half Hollow Hills High School East Half Hollow Hills High School West Hampton Bays High School Harborfields High School Hauppauge High School Hebrew Academy of Five Towns Hebrew Academy of Nassau County – Uniondale Hempstead High School Henry Viscardi School Herricks High School Hicksville High School Holy Trinity Diocesan High School Huntington High School Island Trees High School Islip High School Jericho Senior High School JL Miller – Great Neck North High School John F Kennedy High School Kellenberg Memorial High School Kings Park High School Knox School Long Island Lutheran High School Lawrence High School Lawrence Woodmere Academy Lindenhurst Senior High School Locust Valley High School Long Beach High School Longwood High School Lynbrook High School Malverne High School Manhasset Senior High School Massapequa High School Mattituck Junior Senior High School W.C. Mepham High School Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School Mill Neck Manor School For Deaf Miller Place High School Mineola High School Mount Sinai High School New Hyde Park Memorial Junior Senior High School Newfield High School North Babylon High School North Shore Hebrew Academy High School North Shore High School Northport High School Our Lady of Mercy Academy Our Savior New American School Oyster Bay High School Patchogue-Medford Senior High School Paul D Schreiber High School Pierson Middle High School Plainedge High School Plainview-Old Bethpage – JFK High School Portledge School Rambam Mesivta Riverhead High School Rocky Point High School Roosevelt High School Roslyn High School Ross Upper School Sachem High School East Sachem High School North Sacred Heart Academy Sayville High School Schechter School of Long Island School 7 Oceanside High School Seaford High School Sewanhaka High School Shalhevet High School for Girls Shelter Island School Shoreham-Wading River High School Smithtown Christian School Smithtown High School – East Smithtown High School – West South Side High School Southampton High School Southold Junior Senior High School St. Anthony’s High School St. Dominic High School St. John The Baptist High School St. Mary’s High School Stella K Abraham Girls High School Stony Brook School Syosset High School Uniondale Senior High School Upper Room Christian School Valley Stream Central High School Valley Stream Christian Academy Valley Stream North JSHS Valley Stream South JSHS Village School Vincent Smith School W T Clarke Senior High School Waldorf School of Garden City Walt Whitman High School Walter G O’Connell High School Wantagh High School Ward Melville Senior High School West Babylon Senior High School West Hempstead High School West Islip Senior High School Westbury High School Westhampton Beach High School Wheatley School William Floyd High School Wyandanch Memorial High School

Common Core opt-out movement maintains strength on LI

FAQCommon questions

Why is there controversy over Common Core?

Many educators initially supported the Common Core standards, saying that if implemented appropriately, they had the potential to improve student learning. In New York and elsewhere, testing associated with the Common Core has drawn strong criticism, with some parents arguing the exams are flawed and age-inappropriate and do not provide a valid diagnostic tool. Others have said passing rates set for the exams are unrealistic. Opponents of the tests also say they are not properly aligned with the curriculum, and that teachers are not allowed to discuss the test content with parents or even colleagues.

Some also have argued that a Common Core-aligned curriculum is a federal imposition, and that state and local educational standards work best.

Proponents, such as High Achievement New York, a coalition of education, business and civic groups, say that tests tied to the Common Core standards are a solid measure to evaluate progress toward students’ college and career readiness.

The tests are considered an annual “checkup,” they say, to ensure all kids are making progress, provide teachers and schools more information, and offer a common measure that can be used to help close the achievement gap affecting minority students.

Many education experts have said New York State’s Education Department rushed the standards into place too hurriedly in 2010, in part because federal authorities tied nearly $700 million in “Race to the Top” funds to Common Core implementation. Those same experts have said that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo contributed to the controversy by insisting that the state increase the weight of students’ scores in teacher job-performance evaluations.

How do the tests affect students and teachers?

The state Board of Regents, which sets education policy, in December 2015 passed a four-year moratorium that means Common Core test scores will not be used in a punitive way against students or in teachers’ job ratings. The moratorium is slated to last until at least the 2019-20 school year.

The four-year moratorium was approved by the Regents with the stipulation that teachers continue getting job ratings on an advisory basis.

Opt-out supporters say the moratorium doesn’t go far enough, and they are seeking repeal of the state’s teacher evaluation law and other education reforms.

How have the tests changed?

In response to educators’ and parents’ concerns, the Education Department in 2016 reduced the number of test questions and said tests will be untimed. As part of the state’s contract with a new company to create the tests, teachers had a far greater role in developing the 2016 test questions.

The new company — Questar Assessment Inc., a Minneapolis-based firm — was hired by the state Education Department in 2016. The 2016 exams, however, continue to use questions originally developed by Pearson Education, the London-based firm that produced the state’s tests since 2011.

Pearson, like the McGraw-Hill company that preceded it in publishing New York’s standardized exams, encountered withering criticism from teachers and parents for what they described as poorly written questions and technical gaffes in test administration.

Education Department officials said the state’s new $44 million, five-year contract with Questar calls for teachers to have a far greater role in test development.

What has happened to New York students’ test scores since implementation of the Common Core standards?

Passing rates rose on both tests last year over 2015 scores, though more in English language arts than in math, the state Department of Education has said.

Among about 900,000 students who took the exams, 37.9 percent scored at levels of proficiency on the ELA, up 6.6 percentage points, and 39.1 percent on the math test, up 1 percentage point. The math scores, however, exclude thousands of accelerated students who decided to take the high school Regents algebra exam rather than the eighth-grade math test.

Twenty-one percent of students statewide in grades three through eight eligible to take Common Core tests boycotted the exams in April, the department had confirmed but an exact number was not reported. News accounts showed that about 178,000 students statewide boycotted the exams.

When compared with students’ test scores before implementation of Common Core, the difference is stark. Since the rollout of the more rigorous tests, overall scores on state tests have plunged.

Statewide, the percentage of children in grades 3-8 rated proficient or better in English dropped from 55.1 percent in 2012 to 31.1 percent in 2013. Math scores of 64.8 percent rated proficient or better in 2012 fell to 31 percent in 2013.

What are the consequences for a school with a high number of test refusals?

State Education Department officials have said that a district’s failure to meet the federal requirement of 95 percent participation on standardized tests, if not corrected, could result in penalties — including partial loss of federal Title I aid, used for academic remediation.

To date, the department has not imposed fiscal sanctions on a district because of failure to meet participation requirements on state tests.

It is unclear if the Trump administration will impose any consequences on school systems with a high number of test refusals. The administration has focused on other transformative changes in public education such as pushing for expanded school choice, taxpayer-funded vouchers, and more funding for charter schools, setting the stage for high-profile battles with public education advocates and teacher unions.

Is Common Core here to stay?

Some local leaders say yes, that there is not enough support at the federal and/or state levels of government to force an end to the Common Core standards.

Former President Barack Obama in 2015 authorized returning control of how to improve troubled schools and districts to states and local systems.

President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are both fierce critics of Common Core. But experts say they have little power to rescind the standards that have been set by the individual states. Currently, 42 states and the District of Columbia abide by the Common Core.

In New York, the Board of Regents has modified its stances. In past years, a majority of board members enthusiastically supported higher academic standards and other reforms, but now there is a growing reluctance. Betty Rosa’s selection as Regents chancellor in March 2016 marked a dramatic shift in tone for the 17-member panel.

Emily DeSantis, a spokesperson for the Department said that “Commissioner (MaryEllen) Elia has traveled more than 50,000 miles, crisscrossing the state listening to the concerns of parents and teachers. As a result, NYSED made significant changes to the exams by reducing the number of questions, increasing teacher involved in test development and making them untimed. It’s up to parents to decide if their children should take the tests and we want them to have the all the facts so they can make an informed decision.”

Activists say they will continue their campaign and the state cannot ignore the large number of test refusals.

–Compiled by Joie Tyrrell

LATESTStories & data

HISTORYThe basics of Common Core

When did the opt-out-movement begin?

Organized opposition began to gel in the 2012-13 school year with the state’s rollout of curriculum and tests aligned with the Common Core national academic standards. Criticism of the exams was broad and wide-ranging. Both educators and parents cited the content and frequency of tests, concern that exam questions were not appropriate to children’s developmental level, and the linkage of principals’ and teachers’ performance evaluations to students’ test scores. Parents also worried about the stress on their children and test-prep time affecting other subjects and pursuits.

The first significant increase in student test refusals on Long Island occurred with the spring 2013 administration of ELA and math tests in grades 3-8. Since then, with fierce controversy over educators’ evaluations, many teachers and their unions joined the opt-out battle lines and the number of opt-outs mushroomed — especially in spring 2015.

Across New York, parents formed anti-Common Core groups and used social media to connect and advance their cause. On Long Island, Jeanette Deutermann, a North Bellmore parent, founded the activist group Long Island Opt Out and has used social media to spread the word about test refusals. The group also has organized forums and rallies against the exams and helped parents navigate the how-to of opting their students out of the tests.

“We will continue to refuse to allow our children to participate in the system until ALL harmful reforms are removed from our classrooms,” Deutermann has said.

Opt-out supporters this year are advocating for repeal of state legislation that links students’ test scores to principals’ and teachers’ evaluations and other education reforms, using the slogan “Nothing has changed.”

What is Common Core?

Governors and state education chiefs of 48 states developed the Common Core, a set of academic benchmarks for kindergarten through 12th grade in English Language Arts/literacy and mathematics. New York was among 40-plus states that voluntarily adopted and implemented the standards, which were designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are college- or career-ready.

In New York, the state Board of Regents, which sets education policy, adopted the Common Core standards in July 2010 and incorporated some New York-specific elements in January 2011.

A handful of states that had adopted the standards — including Indiana, Oklahoma, Indiana and South Carolina — have since formally withdrawn from Common Core. At least four others — Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah — are reviewing their states’ acceptance of the standards.

In New York, course curriculums and tests are aligned with the Common Core academic standards. Local districts and educators choose their curriculums following detailed guidelines from the state Education Department.

Generally speaking, according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the standards are an umbrella that outlines, by grade level, what students need to know and be able to do, and curriculums are designed to direct how students will learn the material.

What is the impact of Common Core testing on teacher evaluations?

As of early 2016, there is a four-year moratorium on using student scores on Common Core state tests to evaluate job performances by teachers and principals. The moratorium was in a set of “emergency regulations” passed by the state Board of Regents.

Educators still will get annual performance “growth” scores from Albany based on results of state tests given during the moratorium, but those scores will be advisory. They will not be used to decide which teachers and principals will be assigned improvement plans or fired.

The emergency regulations postponed until at least the 2019-20 school year any use of standardized state English Language Arts and math scores in penalizing students, teachers or principals.

Before the change, teachers and principals had faced the possibility — albeit a small one — of losing their jobs if they were rated “ineffective” two years in a row. That was part of New York State’s revised teacher evaluation law passed in March 2012 — also known as Annual Professional Performance Review — where teachers’ and principals’ job ratings were for the first time tied to the results of students’ scores on state standardized tests.

The state’s push for stricter teacher evaluations was an initiative encouraged by President Barack Obama’s administration and ultimately rewarded with federal “Race to the Top” financial incentives.

Initially, the evaluation system based 20 percent of teachers’ job ratings on state “growth” scores from their students’ test performance, 20 percent on an exam chosen by local districts and 60 percent on classroom observations and other measures.

But after about 98 percent of teachers were rated “effective” or better, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2015 called the system “baloney” and pushed forward a toughened revision of the law, which passed in April 2015. That gives far more emphasis to students’ results on standardized tests — up to 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.

While the strengthened law remains in place, it is not being enforced because of the four-year moratorium.

–Compiled by Joie Tyrrell

QUIZZESMath & English test questions

How tough are the tests? See how much you remember from grade school with these sample questions from various Common Core sample tests available on

LinksMore around the web

This guide was originally published April 4, 2016 and is updated during the state testing period each year.

Long Island’s Extraordinary Seniors 2015

This year’s Extraordinary Seniors are all C students. Not from an academic standpoint — their grades are as upstanding as the students are creative, compassionate and conscientious. All 12 of them — selected from dozens of nominations submitted by guidance counselors, principals and teachers across Nassau and Suffolk counties — are motivated to learn more and blaze trails for fellow schoolmates, future high schoolers, veterans and people they may never meet. Their altruism is good for those on the receiving end in particular, and the world they are about to go into in general. Read their full stories here.

Bobby Menges: Cancer-free, sound of limb, deeply changed

More about Bobby

Bobby Menges was 5 years old the first time doctors diagnosed him with neuroblastoma, a rare and potentially lethal cancer. He was 9 the second time. In between the cancer bouts, he broke a leg so badly that his femur stopped growing. Treatment involved re-breaking the leg and would not have been out of place in a medieval dungeon: “They stuck metal pins in the bones, and every day I’d turn the little knobs on the contraption to pull the bones apart a little bit,” he recalled. Menges, now 17, is cancer-free, sound of limb and deeply changed by what he went through. “It changed my mentality,” he said. “I don’t like to let days go by when I’m unproductive. I feel like I always have to be doing something because I understand that life is short and you have to use everything up.” Read more.

Official: Vivian Utti is going to be somebody

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Vivian Utti is quite familiar with the concept and application of paying it forward. The proof is in her dedication to serving her fellow students at Elmont Memorial High School and those in her surrounding community of Valley Stream. Utti, 17, logged more than 100 hours of community service this year as a Key Club member doing food drives around Elmont, volunteered to work in soup kitchens with the Leo Club of Valley Stream — a youth extension of the service organization Lions Club, and tutored students in math and SAT prep. She is editor-in-chief of the school paper, The Elmont Phoenix, and as president of the Future Business Leaders of America, she helped her team secure second place in business presentation at a state competition. Read more.

David Wolmark excels despite setback

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David Wolmark had always challenged himself academically, but when a serious hiking accident had him laid up in bed for most of his junior year, he excelled in and out of the classroom. In the summer of 2013, Wolmark was leading an expedition through the boundary waters of Minnesota with the Boy Scouts of America. As an Eagle Scout he was an experienced hiker, but during that trek he slipped on rough terrain and fell hip-first into a rock. Not wanting to abandon his crew, Wolmark continued on the trail, using canoe oars as crutches. After hiking in pain for 13 miles back to the base camp, he had emergency surgery to repair his left femoral neck, the uppermost part of the thigh bone. “My life was turned upside down,” said Wolmark, 17, of Port Washington. Read more.

Colleen Flynn’s determination born of tragedy

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Colleen Flynn has a dream and a dream school, and she’s not giving up on either one. Flynn was accepted at 17 high-ranking colleges but not her top choice — the University of Pennsylvania. Undeterred, she turned down all 17 offers and plans to reapply to UPenn after studying at Suffolk County Community College for six months. “It’s about the right fit,” she said. “I’m very stubborn and I’m also very frugal, so I don’t want to invest in a college where I know I’m not going to be happy and it’s going to be too much of a financial burden for my family and myself.” Flynn’s determination was born of tragedy. When she was 13, her mother, Maureen, was diagnosed with triple negative inflammatory breast cancer and later died. Accompanying her mother to Boston for clinical trials, Flynn, a resident of Commack, became fascinated by science but also inspired by young cancer patients. Read more.

Nicholas Vinberg has ‘strong calling’ to serve

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Nicholas Vinberg took a rare day off from school two years ago — on May 24, 2013, to be exact. The date marked the funeral for Jonathan Kaloust, 23, a Massapequa alum and Navy SEAL who was killed when his Humvee overturned during a training accident in Kentucky. Vinberg, a patriotic teen from Massapequa Park with a self-proclaimed “strong calling” to serve the United States, wanted to honor the late SEAL in his own way despite never having met Kaloust or his family. He walked to town holding an American flag and stood for five hours across the street from the service at the Massapequa Funeral Home. “My heart was broken, so I asked my mom if I could take off from school and she didn’t think twice,” Vinberg, 18, said. “Whenever I hold a flag, I’m doing it for all the people who are giving their lives.” Read more.

La-Niyah Ortiz, legally blind, advocates for herself

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La-Niyah Ortiz wasn’t the only one who was nervous on her first day at Bay Shore High School. Ortiz is legally blind and spent most of her education in specialized settings that were well-equipped to accommodate her. Ortiz, 18, is a twin who was born prematurely. She was diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity, abnormal blood vessel development in the retina of the eye. It occurs in infants who are born too early and is a degenerative condition. She also has nystagmus, rapid involuntary movement of the eyes. As she entered her senior year, educators agreed to send Ortiz, of Bay Shore, to public school, where she would have to learn to be more independent and advocate for herself. She was unsure about the change. Read more.

Josh Landsberg gives up pizza to cope with disease

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Josh Landsberg wasn’t prepared to give up the pizza and hero sandwiches that had long been a staple of his diet, fueling the four-sport athlete and scholar after rigorous workouts and study sessions. But that’s exactly what he had to do after he was diagnosed with celiac disease in the 10th grade. The hereditary autoimmune disorder is what had long made him have difficulty processing gluten, a protein found in rye, barley, wheat, couscous and other grains and starches. Though it was tough for him to adjust to a new diet, he told friends not to worry, that there were people in the world with far greater burdens. Read more.

Brianna Cea’s DNA: Military, patriotism, public service

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Inspiration was close at hand when Brianna Cea needed an idea worthy of a Girl Scout Gold Award. Thoughts of the military, patriotism and public service came to mind, probably because they’re in her DNA. Cea, 17, is a chief petty officer in the United States Naval Cadet Corps at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket. Her father, Brian, is a New York police sergeant who served in the Air Force and Army Reserves. He is also a descendant of Josiah Bartlett, a physician, Revolutionary War patriot and New Hampshire governor who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The Gold Award is the Girl Scout’s highest honor. To earn hers, Cea, of East Setauket, completed a twofold project — the Operation Sisterhood campaign to bring more awareness to the roles of women in the military, and the Patriot League club, which promotes dedication to those who serve their country. Read more.

Kilian Duclay sails ahead by helping veterans

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Kilian Duclay knows well the power of the sea. It has a hold over him that he wants others to feel, too. Duclay, a student at Walt Whitman High School in Huntington Station, has spent the past two years introducing military veterans to his family’s pastime, sailing on Oyster Bay, as a form of therapy. “It clears my mind,” Duclay, 18, said of sailing. “I don’t think of anything. That’s a reason why we decided to bring veterans, PTSD-suffering veterans. If it’s therapeutic for us, it must be therapeutic for them.” Read more.

Unpretentious Jennifer McDermott does it all

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Jennifer McDermott has the skepticism of a scientist, so when she learned she was accepted to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, naturally she spent an entire day thinking it was a mistake. On March 14, the unofficial holiday celebrating the mathematical constant Pi, the university released its admission decisions on a special website. When McDermott logged on and saw she had made the cut, the computer crashed and she was unable to go back to confirm her acceptance. “I didn’t believe it at all,” she recalled. “My mom started crying. Everyone was celebrating, but I really didn’t believe it. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t post anything on Twitter or anything. I was just so nervous,” said McDermott, 18, of Shirley. Read more.

Diana Guzman strives for multicultural interaction

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Diana Guzman has a strategy for the new-kid jitters: She literally joins the club. Guzman arrived from the Dominican Republic three years ago. To combat the unease she felt from being in a new environment, one of the first things she did when she got to Central Islip High School was join the Multicultural Club. It worked so well for her that she encourages other immigrant schoolmates to do the same. “They were trying to raise awareness of the different cultures since we live in such a diverse place,” Guzman, 19, said of the club’s members. She enjoyed the multicultural interaction in the club so much that she started bringing some of her own ideas to the table. Read more.

Yaakov Kaminetsky achieves ‘for the greater good’

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Yaakov Kaminetsky remembers his first meeting four years ago with a young boy he volunteered to tutor, because he found himself at gunpoint — Nerf gunpoint, that is. Kaminetsky was a freshman at Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys in Woodmere when he began working with Moshe, a fourth-grader with attention-deficit disorder. Moshe, with his finger on the trigger, jokingly told Kaminetsky that there would be no homework done that evening. Eventually, the persistent Kaminetsky was successful in getting Moshe into his chair to work. Kaminetsky arrived at Moshe’s house every week for two-hour sessions, part of the required 120 hours of community service he needed to graduate. Read more.