NL school board updated on standardized tests

NEW LEBANON–Superintendent Leslie Whitcomb reviewed the expanded Common Core tests at last week’s school board meeting.

In 2010 the state began to require students in grades 3-to-8 graders to take standardized tests aligned with the Common Core learning standards. Last year the testing was expanded to include high school algebra and geometry. The class of 2017 will be the first to graduate having met the more rigorous requirements set by the state Board of Regents.

At the October 21 meeting of the Board of Education Superintendent Whitcomb encouraged staff to align curriculum with test requirements, create rigorous classroom assessments, and continue to provide K-3 reading support to students. The district hired Questar III BOCES to do data analysis required by the state, provide the school feedback on testing, and contribute to professional development for teachers.

Last month Governor Cuomo formed another in a series of committees on public education standards that is looking into reforming how Common Core standards are applied in the state. Last weekend The New York Times reported that the Obama administration had acknowledged that tests had “gone too far,” according to the newspaper, although the officials and experts affirmed the need for a revised approach to testing. And this week the head of the Board of Regents, Merryl Tisch, who as chancellor had presided over the implementation of a Common Core curriculum in the state, said she would not seek another term as a member of the Regents.

A presentation given by Walter B. Howard Elementary School Principal Andrew Kourt at the meeting outlined the reading plan for the elementary school. Each student is evaluated in June and January using the Fountas and Pinnell reading assessment. This helps to determine what books to assign students, based on reading level, and enables struggling readers to get early support.

In other news from the meeting:

  • Newly hired communications specialist Kristin Laplante will produce a bi-monthly newsletter, re-design the website with a March 4 launch date, and manage the Facebook page for the district to “share students success”
  • Seventh and eighth graders met with retired astronaut David Hilmers to learn how waste is managed in space. Jr./Sr. High School Principal Matthew Klafehn hopes to inspire students to improve a green plan for the school, beyond the current recycling project; as part of this initiative the school is planning a trip to Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks
  • Principal Klafehn is working to introduce high school students to colleges with a recent “college caravan,” a meet-and-greet for students and college representatives held at the school. The high school is offering a growing number of dual credit courses that, for a small fee, count toward both high school and college credit. Forty-one credits are currently available. Some students have already graduated with a year of completed college credits, with the potential for significant savings when they attend colleges that accept the credits
  • Board members expressed concern over the outsourcing of ambulance service to surrounding towns, slowing down service during athletic events. Board member Michael Brutsch stated, “What we have now is barely adequate”
  • There will be a fall banquet for student athletes October 29. Dinner starts at 5:30, awards will be given out at 6
  • Trunk or Treat Halloween event will be at WBH Elementary from 5 to 6 p.m. October 31.



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