While in Connecticut for a Communities for Learning last week, we received the updated, revised testing schedule for the 3-8 assessments in New York. The air was immediately charged as building level leaders let the new schedule sink in and began to think about the implications. After airing our frustrations, we did what we always do and set about getting the work done.
In my region, we have a strong history of regional scoring so these changes mean that my team will need to develop a new calendar of scoring dates to assist the districts. We have sent out a survey to our districts regarding participation and trying to determine the best way to handle the tight testing/scoring window. I am confident that with the input from our districts we will determine a way to get this task done, although I am concerned that we will lose the professional development aspect that has been the cornerstone of what we do.
Working in a position that requires me to pass along information from SED to our districts and then work to make their directives reality, I tend to walk a fairly careful line with my thoughts and actions. Often, I try to put the realities of a state office into perspective for our districts and get to what the true intent of their decisions are, not how they are actually implemented, funded or twisted by media coverage. I remind teachers about the importance of standards - while we wrestle with making meaning of their broad guidelines and inconsistency across grade levels. I remind administrators that the 3-8 testing system over time will give us important information about a cohort of students that we can use to address issues in curriculum as well as remediate using data, while bracing myself for the "Business First" month of coverage. I share, in a user friendly format, the regulations that deal with mentoring, AIS, RTI and every other mandate there is pushing my districts to think outside the box and find where they are already doing these things, while fighting off the complaints that these are all non-funded and how are districts/teachers supposed to do all of this.
But lately - I am feeling a little like the aftermath of the tornadoes that recently hit my area. Changes have come upon us with little warning, the path is unpredictable and the aftermath is going to require a great deal of clean-up.
I am still processing all of the information and trying to help our districts find a way out of the storm. But it is becoming harder and harder to defend the wizard.