Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Assessments are Much More Than a Test

Summer is a time to prepare for the upcoming school year, and for our NYS PTA Board of Directors (Board) that includes reviewing resolutions for our upcoming Convention in November, and reviewing and updating position papers.

At our Board meeting held last month, we approved the following position papers that were presented to us by our Resolutions Committee/Advocacy Team taking into account feedback from our members.

The paper on Assessment, Testing and Learning was timely with the release of the Grade 3-8 ELA and Math Assessments last week. Keep in mind that our position is on overall assessments (those used in the classroom), NOT just NYS Assessments.
Assessment is an essential aspect of the learning process since it provides feedback intended to show the level at which instruction should begin, the effectiveness of ongoing learning strategies, and the level of proficiency attained as a result of the instructional process. It is intended to benefit the student, to inform teachers who guide each student’s progress, and to assist parents in understanding how to support their child’s learning. 
There are many types of assessment, with what we know as tests representing only a subset of the numerous assessment tools available. (Please reference the position paper from the link above for specifics.)
Here is a preview of some of the talking points:
All Educators must
  • establish balanced use of assessments to inform instruction without over testing or overemphasizing test performance
  • create and use high quality assessments to measure what is important in a meaningful manner that meets the standards with validity, reliability, fairness, and developmental appropriateness - especially for students with disabilities or new English learners
  • maintain a positive environment for students during assessment/test administration 
  • minimize the use of testing and test preparation so to maximize the learning environment and support whole child learning 
  • avoid the use of a single test or single assessment measure for the placement, promotion, or retention of a student, or within high stakes decisions affecting students 
  • establish developmentally appropriate seat time when assessing students
  • use assessment as part of a holistic improvement of learning and strategic planning for the individual student, groups of students and school systems, rather than using assessment results for punishment or competition
  • never use standardized multiple-choice tests and school readiness tests with preschool and early elementary children for any purpose 
We ask that you also review our position papers on Educating the Whole Child and Juvenile Justice in New York State. They are very important and are representative of our balance as an association to address all aspects of a child at school, at home and within the community.

A big thank you to the Resolutions Committee/Advocacy Team who worked diligently and passionately on these position papers.


Bonnie M. Russell
NYS PTA® President
Communicate to Advocate!

Friday, August 7, 2015

NYS PTA Online Membership System

From time to time members of the NYS PTA Governance Team will be invited to be guest bloggers. This post is being provided to you by our NYS PTA Membership Coordinator, Sean Hannam. 

(Please be on the look out over the next few weeks for upcoming posts about the membership survey results and a separate post about the recently approved NYS PTA position papers.)

NYS PTA Online Membership System 
by Sean Hannam, 
NYS PTA Membership Coordinator 

We are excited to announce that Phase One of our new Online Membership System is nearly complete! It had it's coming out party at our recent Summer Leadership Conference and was greeted with much excitement and anticipation.

Guided by the feedback we have received from our members, this online system aims to:
  • help us to become more economical, ecological, technological and timely; 
  • provide units an easy, convenient and accurate way to maintain a roster of their members; and
  • provide units a single source to send information to their members via email and/or text.
We also expect that our Online Membership System will provide units the chance to:
  • gain and maintain members from areas that were previously under-represented, including out of town family and friends, local businesses and others in the community who may wish to become members, even though they may not necessarily be active members of the school community; and
  • send links to these prospective members allowing them the opportunity to show their support by becoming a member (and paying their dues) online without the need to attend a meeting or event in person.
Phase One of the Online Membership System will be available to units on or before September 1 – just in time to start off the 2015-2016 school yearTraining was provided to members during our annual Summer Leadership Conference, but for those who couldn’t attend, we also have training materials online at our website on our membership web page:
Support from the Region and State Membership teams will be available for any questions you may have that are not addressed in the resources provided on the website.

We understand that the move from traditional paper cards and membership lists is a radical change, but we are guided by the knowledge that it will help drive our association forward and reach even more members. This shift to online membership is putting us on the right path to help NYS PTA better serve our members and reach our goal of serving every child with one voice.