Dear Parents and Guardians,
April is finally here and it actually looks like spring may be taking a foothold. It would certainly be nice if all the snow and frigid weather is gone by Spring Recess in two weeks for those of us who are looking forward to doing some spring clean-up in our yards. April is also the month that the NYS Testing Program begins. As I’m sure you are well aware, your child is participating in the English Language Arts exam this week. I’m also sure that you are aware of the controversy in the media surrounding the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the assessments associated with them. I want to take this opportunity to explain the purpose of these state assessments and the role they play in Hilton Central School District’s assessment program.
The NYS 7-8 assessments are part of our larger comprehensive assessment system. They assist us in providing guidance about the skills and knowledge students need to be academically successful. As a school district, we have been giving state assessments in grades 3-8 since 2006. These assessments aid us in evaluating how well our District is preparing students to meet the standards for each grade level and as one indicator to help us provide extra support to students. The results are not used to determine whether students advance to the next grade, nor do students receive grades that are counted in their grade point averages. The results of the assessments are also used as a part of the Teacher and Principal Annual Professional Performance Review process for some teachers. I want to emphasize that NYS 3-8 assessments are but one part of our overall assessment program.
In Hilton, we believe that assessment is a critical aspect of our instructional programs. We give assessments throughout the year—unit assessments, quizzes, reflections, finals, midterms, project-based assessments and Regents exams. These assessments are created by our teachers, except Regents exams, and are designed to assess the skills, knowledge and conceptual understandings of the courses your child participates in. These assessments are the ones that affect your child’s grades and have bearing on grade promotion. All course assessments are based on the same set of Common Core State Standards in ELA and Math and the NYS Standards, established in 2005 in all other subjects.
As part of our transition to the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme, our teachers closely examine their assessment tools and practices as they write, teach, and revise their MYP unit planners. At our last Superintendent’s Conference Day, teachers and administrators spent the day working on the way we evaluate student assessments and making revisions to the scoring rubrics used that are aligned to IB assessment practices. We did this to ensure consistency in grading practices and provide teachers the time to have in-depth conversations about assessment practices.
As a District who values continuous improvement and is committed to preparing our students for success after graduation, we will continue to provide training and support in the area of assessment. While the NYS Testing program is important, and we naturally want our students to show growth toward meeting the Common Core State Standards in ELA and Math, we must remember that the assessment practices that happen every day in our classrooms are the keys to student success.
Tim Dobbertin, Principal
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