Rivera: Don’t sweat the test, just the snow

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk parents shouldn’t be worried about the upcoming state assessment tests, Superintendent Manny Rivera said Tuesday. Now, snow days — that’s another question.

“Parents have been asking questions,” Rivera said at the Board of Education meeting. “I think there’s some confusion among some folks, needless anxiety. What we really want to do is get out communications about this SBAC (Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium) tests that is going to be administered this spring. We are basically looking at it as a practice test. The only obligation we have from the state is that there be a 95 percent participation.”

The test is part of the transition to Common Core State Standards. Results will not used to evaluate students, he said.

Now that other issue.

“There have been so many snow days that I have lost track,” Rivera said. He said he wasn’t sure but he thought it was five.

The last school day of the year is scheduled to be June 12, a Thursday, he said.

“I am concerned at this point in time that there are already five days and if the weather prediction holds up there could be as many as seven by early next week,” he said. “We may need to revisit how we make up days.”


11 responses to “Rivera: Don’t sweat the test, just the snow”

  1. EveT

    Doesn’t it seem strange that Norwalk teachers and administrators won’t have access to SBAC results for months, maybe as long as a year? (Rivera mentions 2015) Who will have those results in the meantime, and what will they be doing with them? Won’t the students and parents want to know how well they did on the test?

  2. Dawn

    I hope they take away from February and April break and do not extend the year. Do the public have any say.

  3. MarjorieM

    Since when does a test ” not count?” Since when do the results not get published and scrutinized by all? Oh yes, since the decision for a program for the Elemntary language arts curriculum can’t be decided by the superintendent. Don’t worry? No, WORRY!

  4. Mike Lyons

    Marj, the test will be conducted by the State, not us, and the State will have the data. Dr. Rivera was simply reporting what the State has told us – that only raw data will be available to us and probably not for some time. It was the State’s decision to use the first administration of the SBAC as a ‘practice run’, not ours. Dr. Rivera was making the point that given this position of the State’s, we won’t use test results to evaluate students (or teachers under the new teacher evaluation system), until the second (2015) test.

  5. Mike Lyons

    As for the elementary language arts curriculum, we remain on schedule to implement it in the fall of this year – as has been the plan since it was originally formulated. Dr. Rivera is working with a review committee of teachers and principals, as well as consultants funded by a $35,000 grant from GE, on developing a comprehensive K-5 literacy program (one of the consultants is one of the authors of the Common Core English Standards). The program will go way beyond simply picking a textbook. It will include that, of course, but will also include other reading materials, technology enhancements, embedded professional development for teachers, and a major change in the assistant principal job duties — these positions are slated to be redesignated as Curriculum and Instruction Site Directors at each elementary school (this is described in the 2014-2015 budget materials up on the NPS web site). Dr. Rivera is preparing this comprehensive program collaboratively with teachers and administrators and reports that much progress is being made. We don’t need to make final decisions here until April or May to easily have the program in place by the start of the school year. And we have requested — and the City Finance Director has recommended approval of — a capital budget appropriation of $2,358,000 to provide us with the textbooks, other materials, and technology to make it work. We anticipate a presentation on the plan by Dr. Rivera to the Curriculum Committee in late February or early March, and to the full Board in March.

  6. MarjorieM

    Mike, I am impressed with the comprehensive view that is being taken by the superintendent. One suggestion is to be sure to include principals in the professional development model. Principals require a deep understanding of what to expect to help them properly evaluate teachers. Principals must be able to recognize the indicators in a classroom that support the new curriculum and they MUST be given instruction on how to recognize if the instruction they are evaluating (1) is ongoing in the classroom and (2) is connected to previous instruction. So many teachers are capable of putting on a great “one day” flash in the pan lesson plan, but don’t really have a clue about what they are doing. If there is no follow though with the lesson, no connections made, the principal has witnessed the one day wonder lesson.
    Thank you for the background on one of the consultants, what about the others, since you mentioned consultants (plural)?

  7. longtime resident

    Thanks, Mike Lyons, for clearing up some of the misconceptions on this site. Some of the statements here are just so far off the mark that I can’t even believe it. You do it well.

    The SBAC field test is a perfect example. It isn’t Norwalk’s decision, it’s a huge shift for everyone, and it is testing literacy material that Norwalk’s teachers are NOT ready for. We don’t even need to go into the reasons why.

    Principals, building test coordinators, classroom teachers, and students throughout the state are all going through this for the first time. The field test this spring will help the state fine tune the process, and that is why the test won’t ‘count.’

  8. Marj, Dr. Rivera gave me the three consultants names but I don’t have them with me here at work. There ARE school principals involved in the program; I agree on their critical role in this process. The PD component in Dr. Rivera’s plan includes training for Principals as well as teachers, and the new Curriculum and Instruction Site Directors will specifically be responsible for exactly what you suggest – ‘recognition if the instruction they are evaluating (1) is ongoing in the classroom and (2) is connected to previous instruction’ (the whole point of the Common Core is to make and maintain those connections).

  9. MarjorieM

    Thank you, Mike. I assume you already know that any after school or summer program would have to have those standards as well. There is no point in extending the school day/year unless a continuation of the curriculum is extended as well.

  10. MarjorieM

    Oh, and I certainly hope teachers, principals and other administrators will be held accountable. In the past, this was not so. That’s where programs and initiatives that held great promise failed. Please do not allow that to happen again.

  11. Mike Lyons

    Part of Dr. Rivera’s strategic plan includes a detailed set of measures of accountability. Because you’re right, without those plans tend to peter out and fail.

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