New York State has released the data regarding the 2015-16 State assessment results. In anticipation of community questions regarding these scores and the ongoing state assessment testing, the Board of Education has authorized the publication of this position paper.
•  The district continues to deem the NYS Assessments and those proposed to continue under the new federal law Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to be excessive and not in the best interests of the grades three through eight student body. The loss of creative, productive teacher/student time continues to be underestimated by the testing zealots.
•  The NYS Section 3012-d APPR, recently negotiated with the East Meadow Teachers Union, is a non-merit based professional accountability plan. The moratorium for applying ratings to professional staff for career purposes is seen as a delaying tactic to appease critics while ignoring the fatal flaws in the evaluation program.  However, by negotiating the new APPR, the threat of loss of NYS financial aid is eliminated.
•  The school district will continue to urge that the federal government not follow the “leadership” of Dr. King, U.S. Education Secretary, in downgrading and negatively labeling schools that have an opt-out rate greater than 5 percent. In addition, we will continue to urge State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and the Board of Regents to develop a plan that works for students, teachers and parents –  a plan that, at its center, recognizes the importance of our students in the educational growth process.

More Thoughts About Testing
We know that our “opt-out” rate more than doubled from 2014-15 to 2015-16 to more than 50 percent of the eligible three through eight student body. Our teachers’ union, for the first time, officially endorsed the “opt-out” movement.
The tests this year were untimed and contained fewer questions.  However, the exams were only cosmetically changed. We emphasize that we have no legal alternative but to continue to test in grades three through eight.
What we have learned during the four years of excessive student testing is to remain focused on student learning objectives/standards.  Our district developed “reflective assessments” that are given to students throughout the year with the goal of gaining insight as to the strengths and weaknesses of each student in a wide range of curricula.
These locally developed ungraded “tests” are used by teachers and administration in collaboration as to how to improve instruction and student learning. Teacher by teacher, classroom by classroom, department by department, grade level by grade level within a school and across the district, we share and learn from one another to help our students. This non-competitive but collaborative approach binds our professional staff in positive ways and immeasurably enhances educational performance.  In addition, our professional development opportunities provide the basis for continued growth for our administrative and teaching staff to the ultimate benefit of our students. This professional togetherness is a big key to our success.

How Did We Do?

After years of testing, the statewide proficiency rate is 37.9 percent in ELA and 39.1 percent in math. For the 2015-16 school year, the percentage of East Meadow students reaching proficiency was 67 percent in ELA and 72 percent in math, much higher than the statewide average.
Our students are benefiting from the close working partnership of our teachers and administrators.  Ms. Cindy Munter, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, and our curriculum area directors are leaders in this striving for student progress. They deserve our praise. Also, every elementary and middle school professional deserves special credit for helping each of our students grow and learn. We have a long way to go as our work continues.  As a school district, we should be particularly proud of our dedicated professional staff.