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M-W Board of Education will publish letter challenging state assessments

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MADRID – Madrid-Waddington Central School teachers and administrators have written a list of concerns over the new common core standards tests for fourth-graders to be given to state Commissioner of Education.

“Administrators and teachers have met in various capacities—verbal, online and email—to identify our concerns,” Superintendent Lynn M. Roy said Tuesday. “We wanted to make sure that the same message got out from everybody; that it was consistent and the same points were emphasized.”

The letter applauds the state’s use of the common core curriculum, but addresses the state’s “poor communication” concerning the necessary curriculum changes which are still being “modified” as of this month. Students will take the assessments in April.

“We believe in high expectations for students, allowing for high order of thinking and preparing all students for college and career readiness,” said Ms. Roy. “However there is significant heightened anxiety and frustration of both students and staff over not knowing what is going on.”

The new standards are being implemented at the same time as the new annual professional performance reviews.

“I don’t think anyone has problems with the evaluations; just let us know what we are getting evaluated on,” said Ms. Roy. “We do not yet have materials for curriculum standards for which the staff are being judged.”

“Students are caught in the middle of unfair situations,” she said.

Fourth-grade Teacher William Gotsch, who first brought the matter before the school board, said his goal was to make as many people aware as possible.

“I hope that Dr. King will get enough copies of this letter sent to him, and we can better serve our students,” he said.

Since announcing his mission to appeal the new state standards, Mr. Gotsch said he has received support from several parents, teachers and administrators from inside and outside the district.

“I talked to a lot of people since then,” said Mr. Gotsch. “There are other districts that have just been waiting to see what the next step is going to be because they are ready to get involved.”

The list, approved by the district’s Board of Education Tuesday, will be sent to state Commissioner of Education Dr. John B. King, Jr. and published on the school’s website, Facebook page and in its newsletter, Ms. Roy said.

The board will also present the list of concerns to Regent James C. Dawson when he visits the school on Nov. 27 for a meeting with district administrators.

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