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Superintendent Testifies: "Push the Pause Button on State Testing"

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As we begin a new school year, everyone in the Commack School District’s family embraces the concept of new beginnings – starting fresh with unlimited possibilities for our students and teachers. The primary focus of our work has been, and continues to be, implementing programs that support student learning and the acquisition of skills necessary for success beyond the situational classroom; success at the highest levels.

This work has resulted in unprecedented academic achievement on the part of our students, with significant growth over the last several years (more than 99% graduating with a Regents Diploma, average SAT scores well above average, acceptances into the “most competitive” universities in the country and academic scholarship awards well beyond any previous milestones). There is no doubt that Commack Schools are at the pinnacle of success.

However, there are concerns about recent mandated standardized testing initiatives; initiatives that have schools administering altered State tests to students as young as eight (8) years old in third grade. In that regard, Dr. James was invited to testify before the NYS Senate Standing Committee on Education regarding these new State assessments; the sole Suffolk County superintendent invited. Among other things, Dr. James emphasized that everyone in the District - Dr. James, the Board of Education, as well as every Commack teacher and administrator, supports rigorous programming and high levels of accountability for all students and staff. The struggle is with altered mandated standards intended to force curricular changes that are then funneled through very narrowly constructed tests that our staff believes, and the research supports, is being done incorrectly.

Embedded Image for:  (20169810353376_image.jpg) The primary point of focus in Dr. James’ testimony indicated that by altering educational programs to meet the demands of state tests that have been rushed, that have an altered passing criteria, that have no research-based evidence, that they better measure a child’s college or career readiness, is a very professionally dangerous thing to do. If we, in our rush to raise scores on tests that are ill-conceived, eliminate parts of our programs that support the exit outcomes our students need to gain acceptance into the college of their choice or career path they desire, we are doing our students a disservice. Commack schools can prove with real data that we have been more than adequately preparing students for college and/or career opportunities for decades, with significant increases in that regard over the last several years. Our record speaks for itself; It is clear our program prepares all students for high levels of achievement.

Senate Education CommitteeIn his testimony and accompanying report to the Senate Education Committee, Dr. James said, “I believe we stand at the precipice of doing significant damage to our schools if we allow the continued, unfettered implementation of narrowly developed and focused standardized assessments. These assessments do not support our mission to provide a well-rounded education so that every child can develop the skills and acquire the knowledge necessary to be successful in whatever they choose to do after high school.” You can see a video clip of Dr. James’ testimony by clicking the link above. If you would like to read the entire testimony, please click the link below.

As always, in addition to providing a sound academic program at every level, there are a great deal of new and innovative things happening in our schools. We are hopeful that you will have the time to attend school events to learn about these innovations. Know, too, that we will continue to send information about school happenings as the year unfolds. Again, welcome back and know that we wish you, your families and especially your children much success.
Contact Information
By Mail:  P.O. Box 150, Commack, NY 11725
By Phone:  (631) 912-2000
By Email: [email protected]
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The Commack School District Mission Statement
Within the context of a caring community of learners, our primary mission is to provide an exemplary
learning experience that will allow each child to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes, and
values to become a successful, contributing member within our school community and greater society.
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