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RCSD looks to cut assessment exams

Rochester, N.Y. -- If Superintendent Bolgen Vargas has his way, students will take far fewer assessment exams this year, than they did last year.

Last year, we gave too many tests, said Vargas. The teachers union, Dr. Urbanski have agreed with me that we need to do less testing.

In 2012, students were given local pre-assessment exams in the fall for each subject, state exams, then spring assessments.

The assessment tests are part of the Annual Professional Performance Review process or APPR, which are required by the State Department of Education.

Rather than establishing a baseline for student learning through weeks of pre-tests, we have agreed to do away with that, said Adam Urbanski, President of the Rochester Teachers Association.

In lieu of that, last years performance becomes the baseline.

District leaders said the change will be made in response to complaints from students, parents and teachers.

Assessments are part of instruction too, but they should be instructions for learning so they inform the teacher so they can change their practice, said Stephen Grimm, Superintendent of Penfield schools.

Last year, Grimm said that Penfield realized it did not need to create its own local exams to assess student growth and teacher performance.

Instead of giving everybody a September test in every different discipline the object was based on how well they did on their regents exams which is what they were going to take anyway, explained Grimm.

Aside from Penfield, Brockport and Webster have similar plans, according to Vargas.

RCSDs proposal needs state approval which could come within two weeks, according to district leaders.

The proposal would mean a reduction of approximately five to six tests for most students.


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Washington Times