RIVERTOWNS, N.Y. - Rivertowns youngsters in grades three through eight will be taking the New York State English Language Arts tests beginning Tuesday as educators place added emphasis on more critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
New York State assessments will now be based on the revamped Common Core Learning Standards, a series of benchmarks that have been adopted by 45 states.
"Our teachers have worked exceedingly hard to align our curriculum to the demands of the CCSS," Dobbs Ferry School Superintendent Lisa Brady said in a letter to parents. "When managing a change of this magnitude, they engage in a continuous cycle of review and revision. As our understanding of the CCSS evolves, and as resources and assessments become increasingly available, we reevaluate and refine our alignment efforts."
The goal of the ELA test is to develop more critical-thinking and problem-solving skills and to evaluate students and teachers more rigorously.
“Students will be asked to read more difficult texts, to use evidence to support their arguments, and to perform multiple-step math problems," John King, the state's commissioner of education, said.
State officials say the standards were created through intensive research, mapping backwards from college and career success.
In his memo to district schools, Ken Slentz, New York's deputy commissioner of P-12 education, said there will now be a new definition of “readiness” at each grade level and that educators and parents will have an indicator of how students are performing and progressing toward college- and career-readiness.
“If students are to graduate high school fully prepared, they must meet the benchmarks set by the Common Core – at every grade and in every classroom,” Slentz wrote.
King warned students, parents and teachers not to be discouraged if they see scores drop.
“The number of students meeting or exceeding Common Core grade-level expectations should not be interpreted as a decline in student learning or a decline in educator performance," he said. Ardsley Schools Superintendent said the students should not feel undue pressure during the testing period.
"We just tell them to get a good night's sleep and a good breakfast," Allan said.
The Department of Education has developed a Common Core Toolkit for Parents and Families which is a collection of materials and resources designed to help parents and families understand the Common Core itself and New York State Common Core implementation.
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