RCSD looks to take some of the load off teachers and students

Posted at: 09/16/2013 11:22 PM
Updated at: 09/16/2013 11:50 PM
By: Lynette Adams

If your Rochester student was preparing for the next few weeks of tests coming up, they can breathe easier, and so can you.

Monday, a major announcement was made by Rochester's Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Bolgen Vargas, and the President of the Rochester Teachers' Association, Adam Urbanski. They said tests that were scheduled to begin on Wednesday are canceled.

Each student in the Rochester City School District over the next couple weeks would have been taking on average five exams. These exams tell the district primarily how much knowledge the student has and if his or her teacher did a good job the previous year. The district is changing that testing schedule, starting immediately.

“Students will be burdened with tests less and teachers will have more time to teach,” said Urbanski.

It's a radical change announced jointly this afternoon. Very simply, the district is canceling a slate of local assessment tests students take every year. The goal is simply to increase instruction time in every Rochester classroom.

Rochester Superintendent, Dr. Bolgen Vargas said, “By no means are we eliminating testing. We're giving too many. This allow us to get as accurate assessment of our students as possible.”

Vargas and Urbanski are talking about weeks of pretests, particularly at the beginning of the school year, that assess how well students have learned up to this point. It's also a performance review for teachers.

“We are going to use the students prior knowledge as being measured by last year's results, but we also are using the state test as a local assessment as well,” said Vargas.

A number of questions may arise, but Vargas and Urbanski say other districts have made similar changes and it's working. For example it's similar to what happens in Penfield.

News10NBC caught up with Penfield Superintendent, Dr. Steve Grimm.

“Timing is the variable that we can control, and whatever we can do to control instructional time, there's no doubt that's going to be a benefit. I think it's commendable that they are looking for ways to do that. And pulling people together for a common goal is outstanding as well,” said Grimm.

He says in his district there is something more important than a state ranking.

“We want to measure the success of are individual students and help them grow, in-terms of the reason for the statewide testing and ranks, we're not as concerned with that.”

This has no affect on common core, and in fact state assessments are going to be even more important. Those will still take place as scheduled.

While the tests that would have started this week have already been canceled, the change will require the approval of the state commission education. But Vargas says he is confident this change will get Albany’s approval.

We asked students and parents how they feel about this announcement.

Akora Cribbs, a student said, I think it's stressful because we keep going over the same thing. We get tired of hearing about the same topic.”

Parent, Kenya Jamison said, “I think its a great plan because kids need more time in the classroom especially with the new common core. I think they need that time so they can actually understand what the teacher is teaching them.”

The changes are expected to take effect immediately.