Forum at Holley tries to clear up confusion over state education standards and assessments

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 3 November 2015 at 12:00 am

HOLLEY – Parents in the Holley Central School District had the opportunity Monday evening to learn more about standards and assessments in New York State during an informational forum at the Middle School/High School auditorium.

Holley School district administrators and Board of Education members attended the forum that was presented by Monroe 2 – Orleans BOCES administrators Dr. Marijo Pearson and Dr. Michelle Ryan.

“There has been confusion around Common Core standards and assessment tests, we want to make sure you understand why they are different,” Dr. Pearson said.

Parents attending received an information packet with Common Core resources for parents, “A Parent’s Guide to Student Success,” and examples of state assessment testing report data for teachers and parents.

Standards and assessments were addressed separately with administrators explaining that current standards help ready students for both college and careers after high school.

Benefits of Common Core learning as well as shifts in standards for English/Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics were explained.

“Standards are not curriculum,” Dr. Pearson noted. “Here in Holley you have the initiative to write curriculum according to Common Core standards. Teachers have autonomy on how it is taught.”

Parents were given specific ways they can help their children meet ELA and Mathematics standards and questions were taken from the audience.

The parent of a sixth-grader asked about a quiz her son had taken on a computer which included a question he got wrong. The question asked the student, “What do you think might happen?”

“How do you get that wrong?” the parent questioned. “My son thinks outside the box.”

Dr. Pearson responded that the student likely needed to make an inference based on the text in the test.

The same parent also expressed dismay that there are fewer textbooks now to reference when helping students at home, and that it can be difficult to see first-hand what they are learning via computer in school.

Another parent noted online resources, such as YouTube searches, have helped him understand how subjects are being taught.

“I ask my kids for key words that the teacher said,” he explained. He then uses those words to search for information and it has proven to be successful.

Holley Elementary Principal Karri Schiavone said parents do have access to materials and tests students are given on computers.

BOCES 2 administrators also alerted parents to a survey being conducted by the State Education Department seeking feedback from parents regarding state standards. The survey can be accessed by clicking here.

“You are encouraged to fill that out,” Dr. Pearson said.

Dr. Ryan observed that the way New York State education reforms came out all at one time with new standards, new assessments and new teacher evaluation was “probably not the smartest way to do it.”

Parents were also provided with information on various assessment tests including formative, summative, benchmark and state assessments as well as data reports regarding state assessments.

“Data can create conversation, that’s what’s important about data,” Dr. Ryan said. “If we don’t assess, we’re not going to know if they learned it. Assessment has become a bad word. It really isn’t a bad word. We have to assess to know how we are doing.”