Dear Parent or Guardian:
This spring our schools will administer the NYS Grades 3-8 assessments in English Language Arts and Math. The Middle School will administer the ELAs on April 11-12 and Math on May 1-2.
We understand and respect the concerns some parents and guardians may have about testing. While it is our responsibility to faithfully discharge the duties inherent upon us to encourage test participation, we know, and respect, that there will be parents who decide otherwise. However, we would like to explain how we use the results to improve education for your child as well as changes meant to improve New York State testing conditions this year.
The most important thing we want parents to know is the state assessments provide us with important data that we use to improve education for all students. We view these tests as a measure of our performance, not your child’s. For example, if we find a grade level is struggling with a math concept, we may enhance instruction in that area with new resources or offer professional development to adjust how we teach the concept.
Unfortunately, when fewer students take the exams we are left with an incomplete picture of how our students are learning. This limits our ability to address issues that would improve how we educate our students. This is a key reason that educational groups like the National PTA urge parents to allow students to take these assessments.
Our teachers, staff and administrators do everything we can to make students feel comfortable taking exams. Like any test, we ask our students to simply do their best. Last year, New York State made a number of changes with these assessments, including fewer test questions, allowing students as much time as they wanted to complete the test, involving more NYS teachers in the selection of questions in the exams and not tying the results of the exam to the evaluations of teachers or principals. Additionally, children who receive test accommodations as part of an IEP or 504 Plan will receive their full accommodations when taking these assessments.
I hope this information helps explain how our schools use the data from the state’s testing program to evaluate and measure student growth. While we respect the wishes of any parent who requests their child not take the exams, we believe participation helps improve our instructional program (as well as comply with state and federal regulations).
If you have any questions at all, please contact your student’s principal. We want to ensure you have all the answers you need on this important issue. Thank you.
Dr. Angelina Maloney Mr. Richard Pogue
Superintendent Secondary Principal