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Madrid-Waddington board approves letter to state challenging assessments

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MADRID — Madrid-Waddington Central School teachers and administrators have written to state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. with a list of concerns over the new common core standards tests to be given to fourth-graders.

The letter, while supporting the common core overall, criticizes “poor communication” by the state concerning required curriculum changes that are still being “modified.” Students will take the assessments in April.

“We believe in high expectations for students, allowing for high order of thinking and preparing all students for college and career readiness,” Superintendent Lynn M. Roy said last week.

“However, there is significant heightened anxiety and frustration of both students and staff over not knowing what is going on,” she said.

The new standards are being implemented at the same time as the new annual professional performance reviews.

“I don’t think anyone has problems with the evaluations; just let us know what we are getting evaluated on,” Ms. Roy said. “We do not yet have materials for curriculum standards for which the staff are being judged.”

“Students are caught in the middle of unfair situations,” she said.

Fourth-grade teacher William D. Gotsch, who first brought the matter before the school board, said his goal was to make as many people aware of the situation as possible.

“I hope that Dr. King will get enough copies of this letter sent to him that some of these things will be published and given to him (so that) we can better serve our students,” he said.

Since announcing his mission to appeal the new state standards, Mr. Gotsch said, he has received support from parents, teachers and administrators inside and outside the district.

“I talked to a lot of people since then,” Mr. Gotsch said. “There are other districts that have just been waiting to see what the next step is going to be because they are ready to get involved with it as well.”

The letter, approved Tuesday by the district’s Board of Education, has been sent to Mr. King and will be published on the school’s website and Facebook page and in its newsletter, Ms. Roy said.

The board will present the list of concerns to Regent James C. Dawson when he visits the school Tuesday for a meeting with district administrators.

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