June 17, 2013

Test forum panelists call for action

CLINTONVILLE — Panelists at AuSable Valley Central School’s forum on state testing also discussed how people can make their concerns known to the State Education Department.

“The way I see this, (the) State (Education Department) needs our help,” panelist and AuSable Valley High School Principal Aimee Defayette said at the event.

Many people do not want students to be subjected to the state’s assessments, she said; however, people must now figure out what they do want.

“Collectively, as a group, I think we need to discuss that and voice that.

“We need to offer (the) State (Education Department) suggestions as to how to create a win-win situation, and we can do that because we’re smart, and we’re very good at what we do,” Defayette said.

Fellow panelist Dr. Doug Selwyn, a professor of education at SUNY Plattsburgh, noted that members of other school districts are likely sharing the same concerns about the exams.

“There is strength in getting together with others,” he said. “One of the things that is happening is we’re all isolated, but we’re feeling many of the same things.”

In order to bring about positive change, AuSable Valley Teachers Association President Rod Driscoll, also a panelist, told the audience that the public has to take action.

“That includes calling legislators, sending them letters, writing letters to the editor,” he said.

In addition, Board of Regents member James Dawson, who also served on the event’s panel, told the crowd that he and his colleagues on the board have been attending similar events throughout the state.

“I’ve taken notes at all the forums I’ve participated in, and that will eventually filter back to my colleagues at the board.

“I know that our deputies, our assistant commissioners (and) the commissioner himself is also getting out and listening,” he said.

Along with writing letters to state officials, Dawson encouraged parents and teachers to become involved in statewide organizations of people with similar concerns about education.

“All of those organizations have a huge impact,” he said. “When we put together panels or discussions or advisory groups, we generally take our representation from those sectors.”

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