PV Schools

Dear Putnam Valley Parents/Guardians:

Once again, I am writing to you to ask that you support our teachers and administrators in providing the instructional foundation and environment that supports student learning and achievement as creative and critical thinkers, readers and writers. As we have indicated in prior letters, we continue to look towards strengthening our instructional strategies and targeting our approaches to student needs. To that end, our staff has analyzed the New York State 3-8 assessment results to provide information that we have used to examine student progress and performance.  Because we do not have results from all students in grades 3-8, we attempt to supplement the state assessment with a variety of other types of  assessments so that we can work effectively to ensure student success.  This year, our teachers worked together to create a chart that provides clear and immediate information on how the tests have changed over the past two years to address concerns that parents have had.

Parents are now able to review most of their child’s tests and responses, not just the results, but the actual math and ELA tests so that they are aware of what students are expected to know and do in their grade level. In order to review the tests, parents can call the principal’s office and make an appointment to meet with the administrator or teachers to examine their child’s tests.

Other changes are outlined in the attached chart so that parents can quickly see just how different the testing process has been. Some of the important issues that have been addressed:

  • Tests are shorter with fewer reading passages and math problems. A portion of three days is used for test administration.
  • Tests are spread out, so that ELA is at the end of March and Math is at the end of May.
  • The new test developer, Questar, uses different measures and provides for a variety of reading levels with passages chosen by teachers from all over New York State. PV teachers have participated in test development.
  • ALL student writing responses in grades 3-8 were released to schools. We have had professional development for our staff so that teachers view the tests and plan lessons to support students.
  • Teachers are involved in test creation, item writing and passage selection.
  • The tests are untimed. Suggested time varies from 50-90 minutes per session. Students can take their time to finish and check. There is no pressure of a time limit.
  • More IEP accommodations are now allowed on the state tests. You can learn about these from our Office of Pupil Personnel or your child’s teachers.
  • The test results are now returned by the end of May so that teachers can meet over the summer to use the information for planning. Individual reports were mailed home before school started.
  • Parents can see their child’s test. Make an appointment to see your child’s 2016 test.
  • The new APPR law removes the 3-8 scores from calculation of the teacher’s reported evaluation score.

We are asking that all students participate in the State Assessment process this year. There is already a negative impact on the District’s accountability rating because we had a refusal rate above 5%. Our refusal rate was over 40%, which may result in penalties that are not related to student performance, but to student participation. We are looking at the consequences of not meeting the Acceptable Yearly Progress, not due to student achievement, but due to lack of participation in the testing process. If we are named a “School in Need of Improvement,” we have damaged our reputation and the community’s standing, and created the need for extensive paperwork and reporting that will compel our use of limited resources for this purpose.

We understand that there continue to be questions about the direction of New York’s educational initiatives. However, much has changed, and we need to be sure that our students are meeting the standards that measure their progress and the District’s efforts to provide a meaningful and engaging educational program.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Dr. Frances Wills
Superintendent of Schools