Press-Republican

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June 17, 2013

Forum airs state-test frustrations

CLINTONVILLE — Ever since the implementation of the state’s new exams, Kris Nielsen has noticed a change in the discussions he has with his daughter’s teacher.

“We used to talk about my daughter,” the educator and author of “Children of the Core” told the crowd gathered for a recent forum at AuSable Valley Central School.

“Now we talk about her (test) scores and why they’re not good enough or why they are good enough.”

Nielsen was one of 13 panelists who spoke at the informational event, which was hosted by the AVCS Family School Association and focused on state testing and related mandates, such as Common Core Standards and Annual Professional Performance Reviews of teachers and principals.

Other panelists included Board of Regents member James Dawson; Champlain Valley Educational Services Assistant Superintendent Teri Calabrese-Gray; Dr. Doug Selwyn, a professor of education at SUNY Plattsburgh; AVCS Superintendent Paul Savage; Keeseville Elementary Principal Kevin Hulbert; and AuSable Valley Teachers Association President Rod Driscoll, among others.

SHIFTS IN CURRICULUM

Dawson said the state adopted the Performance Reviews and Common Core in an effort to improve teaching and administration and raise academic standards to those of countries that are out-competing the United States.

“The major aspect of what we’re trying to do is to turn around the lowest-performing schools in the state,” he said.

The Common Core, which was implemented this school year, focuses on shifts in English language arts and math curriculum, Calabrese-Gray told the audience, and asks teachers and students to take a deeper look at a fewer number of topics.

This year’s state exams, which are developed by Pearson Education Inc., a company that also provides test preparation materials, assessed students on the new curriculum for the first time.

The assessments, Calabrese-Gray said, are used to determine how well students are meeting the new standards and whether they may be in need of academic assistance.

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