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Glen Cove Record Pilot • Schools

Finding Balance Between Grades/Testing

When it comes to the newly introduced state assessment exams that were administered to students in grades 3-8 last spring, North Shore Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Melnick is not completely sold.

“My contention is that we need to re-evaluate the focus of the New York State Common Core assessment testing,” said Melnick at last Thursday night’s school board meeting. “I don’t believe in explicit test practices but believe in authentic learning experiences. There needs to be a balance between the two.”

The school district was in the overall top 10 for Nassau County in assessment score results.

In order to prepare for the exams, North Shore Middle School students did not participate in common skill & drill test prep, but instead focused on lessons and units of study that engaged them in learning aligned with the New York State Common Core.

In ELA, (English, Language, Arts,) teachers engaged in the Teachers College “writer’s workshop” approach which focused on students writing more and editing more. All students received one on one coaching from their teachers on their writing on a weekly basis.

“While this was not direct test preparation, we do believe that our students did better on writing sections of the ELA this year because of the work we did in writing during the 2012-13 school year,” said Melnick.

In reading, teachers worked to incorporate the common core shifts in ELA to more effectively challenge students to read high level literature and more nonfiction texts. In doing so they did not focus on straight forward ‘test prep’ for the majority of the school year.

In summary, Dr.  Melnick said that the primary purpose of evaluating student and school performance “was to provide the professional staff and the board with information to support improvement in student learning.

He added that the assessments should be both formative and summative, with results viewed in context as part of a developing picture of students’ progress throughout the year.