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Teachers Tell Parents to See Test Scores as 'Snapshots'

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 03:15 PM

2:04 p.m. | Updated Parents and guardians are getting word Thursday that they can view test scores from the state tests, via the ARIS parent link, a few days earlier than previously announced.

And as they begin to view individual student scores from this year's state tests, SchoolBook asked some teachers to help put the scores in the context of classroom learning. Their overall response: consider the test results as a snapshot and take them with a proverbial grain of salt, or two.

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"I guess it gives us information about the types of questions that they need to learn how to answer better, which is a skill in and of itself," said Cara Cibener, a sixth-grade humanities teacher at Tompkins Square Middle School. "But it really doesn't let us in on all of the complexities of who they are and what kinds of things they really are learning and producing."

Despite what one may think about standardized tests, student scores help determine a school's grade on its progress report and, starting as soon as next school year, will be factored into a teacher's performance evaluation. Test scores also help determine whether or not to promote a student to the next grade.

Even with more riding on state tests, some educators point out that, while testing can give some information about a student or a school, it does not define a student's abilities in the classroom.

Adam Beck, a special education teacher at Public School 20 Anna Silver on the Lower East Side, advised school communities to take this year's test results "with a grain of salt," calling the test one snapshot into the classroom experience. He also noted the growing pains associated with aligning the tests with new curriculum standards.

"I feel like there is a good solid goal," he said. "But there's going to have to be a lot of professional development, and very specific professional development, given to teachers on how to give students the strategies that they'll need to be successful on these very different tests."

For students and parents waiting to find out individual scores, Amy Piller, who taught sixth-grade English and social studies last year at Public School 126 Jacob August Riis in Chinatown, said she encouraged some reflection first.

Students should consider how they have grown over the school year and set goals moving forward, she said.

"I think doing that throughout the year is really important so that when you get to the time of testing," she said, "they have other reference points to think about."

Scores can be found on the ARIS parent link.

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