Monday, August 8, 2016

What Goal Are We Chasing?

Well, I can tell you that I am not as young as I used to be. I spent the weekend in Boston with my dad, brother, and a bunch of my brother's friends for a get together before my brother's wedding. No worries; I was back in my room and in bed by eleven each night. It was good to get out of town for a couple of days, and I even watched my dad take his first Uber ride!

We continue to have a smooth summer. Construction is going well, BOCES summer school is going well, and all of our summer preparations, both academically and operationally, are coming together nicely.

Supply Drive: The West Genesee PTA/PTO District Council is once again sponsoring a School Supply Drive. The purpose is to provide free school supplies for students in need of assistance who attend any school in the District. Last year the program helped well over 150 families, and we anticipate the need to be the same this fall. For more information about how you can donate supplies and/or register to receive the supplies for your child, click here.

I am very appreciative of these efforts as the supplies are always much needed and definitely used. We haven't had any leftovers yet!

Update on State Assessment Results: I did want to address the release of the New York State Grades 3-8 Assessment results (click here to view them). If you review them, you may notice that the results were not as high as we see for us on Regents Exams, or our high school completion rate. Please do not panic; it is all part of the greater plan.

We are required to give the 3-8 New York State assessments, so we do. Each of the exams the past three years have been different, and the "cut scores", or basically the curve to see who passes, has changed. As a result of these inconsistencies, I told our principals and teachers to worry more about becoming familiar with the new material and how to teach it, rather than cutting that experience short for test preparation. We even took the importance of improving on the 3-8 New York State assessments out of our strategic plan, until the tests became more valid, which I would expect to happen in two years.

Do the current New York State Grades 3-8 assessments have any value to us right now? Yes. The results do help us to compare understanding of the curriculum between our own elementary and middle schools. We can compare the results with other assessments we give locally in each building and begin to see if there are gaps in instruction; we can then fill those gaps between buildings.

My overall goal as a superintendent is to make sure that each student sitting in a ninth-grade class has relatively the same K-8 education so they can launch into high school and begin to make post high school decisions. I am very comfortable that we are in line with this philosophy.

We do place heavy emphasis on our high school completion rate, which is at an all time high for us, as well as all data points relative to New York State Regents results, which are also very good. You will see improvement in our New York State 3-8 results beginning next year. You will then see exponential growth in two years, when we know the material is being taught to its fullest and our teachers are most confident with it, and we are comfortable with the validity of the assessments.

Should your child take the NYS 3-8 assessments? I believe they should, because they will become more valid. Past experience with other educational reform tells me that a move away from the common core learning standards will take many years, and soon, the state will place true emphasis on the results. Having a child get used to the environment and the experience will help them to be adjusted for when they "really count".

Enough about that. We have a great weather week in the works, and I am looking forward to catching a few Marching Band practices!

Enjoy the week-