The NYS Education Department did not release the 2011-12 testing dates until the end of August. The Grades 3-8 ELA Testing Dates are immediately following our scheduled two week Spring Break. Therefore, at last night’s BOE meeting our BOE adopted a revised calendar that moves our two week Spring Break back by one week. Instead of the first two weeks of April, we will now be on break the last week of March and the first week of April.
I realize there are all kinds of arguments, gripes, and opinions surrounding if and when children have breaks from school, some educationally centered and some for personal convenience. I also realize that some families may have already booked their vacations for this school year and that this will cause difficulty for those families. I truly regret the inconvenience this causes to our families. With the late release of the testing dates from the State Education Department, the only other decision we could have made would have been to let it ride and hope our students do well on the ELA state assessments.
I just don’t see how that’s fair to our students or teachers. Yes, we should be adequately preparing them all year. Yes, I understand it’s not about a week of test preparation. Yes, I know they’re young and it shouldn’t be all about testing. And yes, I know there are counter arguments to everything coming from NYSED.
BUT. We are a public school district working within the expectations and governance of NYSED. Coming off of a two week break our students aren’t even back into their routines of going to bed early and thinking about school. And yes they are young, so upon returning from the break, they likely won’t remember as much. And yes, these tests are high stakes. No one likes being at the bottom of the 96 school districts in Western New York—even the parents who may be frustrated that we’ve changed the break aren’t going to like it if Randolph doesn’t improve.
We are just as good as the other districts in Western New York, with extremely hard working teachers and excellent students. We’re working hard to better align what we’re teaching to the NYS curriculum and to identify what each child needs to succeed. Leaving the break the way it is and rolling the dice that everything would work out anyway just seemed like betting against ourselves to me. I’m not willing to do that because I believe we’re on our way UP academically. As our BOE President said, “we’re in the education business, not the vacation business.”