Submitted by Judi Buckalew, BOE President
Lots of snow and very low temperatures seem to be the order of the day recently. The evening of February 11, was no exception, but it did not keep the current five members of NRW BOE from meeting as scheduled. The previous week, however, weather conditions necessitated postponing the scheduled interviewing of the six individuals who have applied to serve as board members from date of appointment to May 31, 2014. Three appointments need to be made to fill the positions recently vacated by resignations. A new date set for interviews is February 20, 2014. Interviews and deliberations by the board are done in Executive Session as prescribed by NYS law. Election of new members will occur during the next open board meeting. If all five members can not agree on three appointments, NYS school law requires the BOCES Superintendent to appoint as many as necessary to return to eight members.
Other business of note includes acceptance with thanks and regrets three resignations for the purpose of retirement at the end of this school year from: Rosa Fox, Middle School Music teacher, served thirty years; Debra Benson, Elementary teacher, served thirty years; Wanda Carey, Teacher Aide, served twenty-one years. This represents eighty-one total years of experiencebeing leaving. The good news is, applicants recently interviewed to fill vacancies express a desire to join NRW faculty and become a part of the success in continuous improvement of student achievement, such as higher grades, increasing Regents pass rate and dramatic rise of graduation percentages.
Speaking of new hires, the board approved appointment of Melanie Stevenson as Director of Curriculum and Instruction, effective March 1, 2014. She will replace Jacinda Lisanto who is retiring from this position as of the same date. We look forward to meeting Ms. Stevenson at the next board meeting.
Jacinda Lisanto and Kaaren Thompson, Shared (with Clyde) Director of Technology, worked together to produce an eight minute video in which Jacinda explains components of the Regents Reform Agenda. The video, shown during the meeting, is one of many opportunities board members have had to become familiar with the Reform Agenda as developed and partially implemented over the past several years. It can be difficult to grasp the various components and “education speak” used in this plan. The media referring to the whole package as The Common Core has not helped the public get a clear picture. I will try to briefly explain the Regents Reform Agenda.
REGENTS REFORM AGENDA. An agenda is a list of things to be done or dealt with. Thus this is a list NYS Board of Regents developed outlining the things to be done to reform/improve education in NYS. To help achieve reform the Federal government developed standards and made available grant money to states the adopted the standards and successfully applied for a grant, known as Race to the Top Grants. The agenda contains six items.
Item 1. COMMON CORE STANDARDS. New York is one of 47 states to adopt the Federal standards, known as Common Core State Standards. If a state chooses to add to the standards they may. New York opted to do so and identifies the expanded list as Common Core Learning Standards. Breaking down the title word by word may make it easier to understand. Common means shared by everyone or all. Core is the heart of or the most important part. Standard is a level or grade of excellence/attainment/accomplishment regarded as a goal or measure of adequacy. So, Common Core State Standards are levels of accomplishment that are used by all participating states as goals desired to be reached. Common Core Learning Standards are the same except they are common to all schools in New York State. At present, standards have only been developed for English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics.
Item 2. NEW YORK STATE CURRICULUM MODULES. Curriculum is a a course of study. Module is a unit. Thus, NYS Curriculum Modules are a unit of study aligned to (brought into agreement with) the Common Core Learning Standards. Each school district may choose whether to use the module exactly as prepared by the state or adapt it to better suit student needs and/or teachers’ style and method.
Item 3. ANNUAL PROFESSIONAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW. Teacher evaluation based on classroom and professional performance, locally created or approved student tests and student growth scores (measuring learning progress).
Item 4. FEDERAL STANDARDIZED TESTS. Given in grades three through eight for English Language Arts and Math only. Are aligned with the Common Core Learning Standards.
Item 5. DATA DRIVEN INSTRUCTION. Using test scores as guidance by teaching staff to make modifications for adjusting instruction to improve student outcomes.
Item 6. NATIONAL STUDENT DATABASE. Where student information, including test scores, is stored. Parents and teachers can access this data. New York and eight other states use software developed by inBloom Inc. for this purpose.
There are basically two reasons for these changes. To make education standards the same in each participating state and to set higher expectations for student achievement.
Hope this has been helpful. Setting it down in writing has sure given me a better understanding.
Next BOE meeting is February 25, 2014, 7 pm. high school. Was not on the schedule, but added to remain timely in completing business at hand. Hope to see some of you there.