Let's first start with Common Core State Standards (CCSS). These standards are based on a national set of standards, and include a portion that is specific to New York State. The emphasis in these new standards is quite simple, to prepare our students to become college and career ready before they walk across stage at their high school graduation. Although the emphasis is simple, the paradigm shift has been a challenging endeavor for teachers, principals, and other educators around our country. The CCSS are standards that were welcomed by educators because they speak to the true, authentic work necessary for our students to be the leaders of tomorrow. Embedded within these standards are rigorous skills and strategies that aim to prepare our students to become college and career ready and include critical thinking, collaboration, the art of questioning, creativity, reflection, analysis of various resources, and the fostering of an innovative spirit in learners. I don't know of anyone who could argue the fact that these changes are essential to the 21st century learner.
As a result of the shift in standards, New York State has become diligent in modifying assessments to more closely align them to new teaching and learning practices and expectations. The former assessments were based on the old set of standards, thus using them would be an unreliable data source. To truly utilize assessment as indicators of student growth, both standards and assessments must be aligned. This offers educators accurate data to drive instructional decisions and practices.
If you haven't already received your child's score report from the New York State ELA and math exams, you will likely see them soon. I have already had conversations with parents about the results, and what work the middle school continues to do to prepare our students to be successful. Our entire professional learning community at Westmoreland is on a journey to prepare our students to become college and career ready by the time they graduate.
Below is a letter to parents and families from the New York State Commissioner of Education, John King. In this letter, Commissioner King addresses the changes in tests, scoring, and expectations. Specifically, he highlights that these test scores cannot be compared to those from previous years because they are based on a new set of standards. Additionally, he speaks to the fact that students have not learned less, and our schools have not performed worse than last year, again pointing to the new set of standards. I encourage you to read this letter, and welcome any questions that you may have.
Additionally, I have attached two documents from the New York State Department of Education to help parents and families understand the score reports when they arrive in the mail.