PV Schools

March 14, 2016

Dear Putnam Valley Parents/Guardians:

Our administrators and teachers are committed to providing the instructional foundation and environment that we believe support student learning and achievement as critical and creative thinkers, readers and writers. In order to strengthen our instructional strategies and target our approaches to individual student needs, we are interested in obtaining as much information as we can about student progress. To that end, we want to share our thoughts about the New York State 3-8 assessments, and we want to encourage participation in the required state testing.

Most recently, New York State has responded to concerns expressed by parents and educators regarding the tests and the linkage between the tests and teacher evaluations. The changes that have been made and proposed by NYSED indicate that there is a desire to lower the stakes for students and teachers, and to work together to create a more effective and reasonable way to assess student achievement and growth.

The following are some of the changes that will be implemented with this year’s tests:

  • Most important for students, tests will be untimed allowing the opportunity for all students to demonstrate their achievement without the stress of a time limit.
  • Tests will be somewhat shorter with fewer questions and reading passages
  • Tests have been reviewed by teachers to evaluate and select questions for developmental appropriateness
  • Teachers have been invited to continue involvement in 3-8 tests and standards development and in writing new questions with the new vendor (Questar).
  • Growth scores on the 3-8 state tests will not be used for teachers’ final evaluation score or employment purposes. The growth model itself is being scrutinized for validity.

In discussions with Putnam Valley parents, I learned that the way our District responded to data that we have received from the assessments and other measurements that we use has made a significant difference for students. By analyzing outcomes from students who participated in the assessments, our District: 

  • Allocated additional resources to establish learning labs and other support, such as the Achieve reading program,
  • Increased focused academic intervention services at the middle and elementary school,
  • Provided targeted professional development to teachers to enhance student engagement.
  • Added a sixth grade teacher to ensure more student-teacher contact.

Certainly, our teachers know our students individually, and are continually assessing in the classrooms as part of the instructional process. We also administer more formal assessments, such as the DRA at the elementary school to determine our students’ strengths and weaknesses as readers. However, there is much to be learned when we examine our students’ skills in comparison to a larger population sample in similar districts. Therefore, when our students participate in the testing, we will have more representative baseline information about their learning and achievement.

It also should be noted that there is already a negative impact to our school accountability rating because we had a refusal rate above 5%. We have been notified that we have not made Adequate Yearly Progress, because we had a test refusal rate of over 40% last year. This metric is recorded on our New York State report card. We could be compelled to use our limited human resources to provide many additional reports, extensive paperwork and other documentation to demonstrate our intent to be accountable. These tasks would be mandated solely due to the test participation under 95%, and would be unrelated to student performance.

We understand that there are many legitimate questions about the recent direction of the state educational initiatives, including testing and teacher evaluation. We also hope that parents will support our efforts to provide a meaningful and engaging educational program to ensure student success.

Considering the changes the state is making and continues to undertake, it is our hope that all Putnam Valley students would give their best effort to the state assessment this year.


Dr. Frances Wills

Superintendent of Schools

Mr. Edward Hallisey

Putnam Valley Middle School Principal

Ms. Margaret Podesta

Putnam Valley Elementary School Principal

EngageNY-Changes to the 2016 Grade 3-8 Assessments: What Parents Need to Know

PVCSD Resolutions asking to reassess approach of standardized testing

There is no school for students on Monday, April 22, 2024