139 Fairbanks Road,
Churchville, NY 14428
Fax: (585) 293-1013
I would like to provide some clarification regarding the New York State Assessments in grades 3-8. A lot of information has been highlighted in the news recently, mostly in an emotional manner which has not been completely factual.
Many of you are aware that testing has been in place in Public Schools in New York State since 1865. Its origination was intended to assess students for high school entrance and end-of course completion. In 2006, students in grades 3-8 began yearly assessments in ELA and Math in an effort to obtain data so that teachers could provide specific interventions and differentiated instruction based upon student needs. Most recently, 2013 exams were aligned to Common Core Standards and linked to teacher evaluation (based upon Race to the Top funding).
When the Common Core Standards (a set of learning objectives) were released, our district updated curriculum to include these higher standards and involved teachers in that process. In addition, we modified our instructional practices, including technology, to best prepare our students for the current society needs of higher level questioning, problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration.
The current New York State assessments are meant to measure growth in learning. While the tests are new in their implementation, taking these will provide an opportunity for our students to become familiar with an increased level of rigor. As of this year, the Regents exams have already transitioned to embed Common Core Standards (Algebra, Geometry and English 11). Students that do not take these new common core Regents exams or fail these exams will not receive course credit which will result in not meeting NYS high school graduation requirements.
Students in our district are prepared to take the grades 3-8 assessments as well as the Regents exams. The controversy surrounding the results of the exams and its impact upon teacher evaluation is a different issue. Many assume that having their child “refuse the test” will help teachers and send a message to our legislators in Albany.
I want to clarify why refusing the test actually poses a challenge for teacher evaluation scores, as well as our district. Currently, a portion of a teacher’s score is based upon growth shown on student exams. Depending upon the number of students in a given classroom, if the student participation is reduced, the growth value of each remaining student is actually increased.
Think about this “weighting” in a different way - if you miss (4) questions on a 20 question test, you would receive an 80; however, if the test has 10 questions and you miss (4), you would receive a 60.
This idea of weighting applies to the growth factor of students taking the assessment as it results in a teacher score. Further, all teachers and principals in our elementary schools and middle school will receive a “local measure” score based upon these results. As a district, our State School Report Card will indicate a much decreased rate of student performance along with a designation of not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress for student participation. What this ultimately means is that our Churchville-Chili District could become a District in Need of Improvement.
Our district has demonstrated strong graduation results and is among the best in Monroe County. We believe that we have an excellent instructional program and our students are prepared for the assessments. When used appropriately, common assessments support our goals for continual improvement, data for instruction, and achieving excellence.
Many school leaders, teachers, and parents have shared their concerns about the grade 3-8 state assessments being tied to teacher evaluation with state education officials, state legislators, and the governor. Our district has participated in advocacy efforts and will continue to do so on behalf of our students, staff and community. We greatly value our teachers and principals and their commitment to quality instruction for our students.
I hope this information has been helpful and I thank you for your continued support of our teachers, principals and district.
Superintendent of Schools