Over the course of the 2013-2014 school year, the New Hartford community has shown tremendous leadership with stakeholder groups coming together to advocate for children as the effects of the Regents Reform Agenda continue to disrupt teaching and learning in our public school classrooms. Concerned about the overemphasis on high-stakes tests, an intrusion of family & student privacy, and a narrowing of curriculum resulting from increased testing, parents, teachers, district administrators and Board of Education members from New Hartford formed a task force to encourage open communication and dialogue between all stakeholder groups. The goal? Make certain that all students’ needs are being met in the classroom.
The most immediate and obvious conclusion reached by the task force was that The New Hartford Central School District continues to provide students with a well rounded, top-notch education. Yet concerns about the Regents reform agenda’s impact on our classrooms remained with testing placed at the top of the list. Not only are stakeholders concerned about the increase in testing, the connection to teacher evaluation, and the influence testing has on daily instructional practices, but there is widespread shared concern about the secrecy surrounding grade 3-8 tests in New York State.
Though concerns about the secrecy surrounding testing are not unique to New Hartford (read more here), the dedicated community deserves a round of applause for authoring a letter to state leaders demanding that grade 3-8 exams be released for the public to view. The letter, sent last week, notes that, “Our focus is, and will continue to be, service to the children of our community. Without full access to the NYS Exams for which we have prepared our children, we will be denied an important tool in our work towards continued growth and improvement.” Signed by The New Hartford Central School District Board of Education, The New Hartford Teachers’ Association, Opt Out CNY and New York State Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C-I, Rome), the letter can be read in its entirety here: Open Letter to NYS Leaders: Show us the tests
Like the tests themselves, whether or not Commissioner King or the Board of Regents choose to respond to the letter remains to be seen. It has become clear, though, that the community of New Hartford remains committed to its students and will not simply accept what is sent from Albany without examining the impact on students, our schools, and the future of public education. Continuing to have conversations with all stakeholder groups, however difficult they may be, can lead to only one thing: the assurance that the students of New Hartford Central Schools are afforded a pedagogically sound, well-rounded, diverse learning experience in and out of the classroom.