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Inspiring and Preparing Today’s Learners to Embrace Tomorrow’s Challenges

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Bellefonte Area School District wins national award, MAGNA - honorable mention, for their community literacy program -
Bellefonte READS 
 
 
A message to our families,

Each spring school districts in Pennsylvania engage an assessment schedule that generally consumes the student school day, in some format, for the entire month of April.   All students in 3rd through 8th grade are assessed in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Students in 4th and 8th grade are also assessed in Science.  The data from these assessments, capturing a single snapshot in time, are used for accountability purposes for state and federal reporting.  They are tied to teacher evaluations, and, they often send mixed, if not inaccurate messages, about not only student performance, but also performance of the schools the students attend.  The data does little to inform our administrators, teachers, and students with regard to understanding of specific skills and concepts that lead to greater student growth and achievement.  Nor does it offer reliable, relevant, and timely information to the district for large scale planning purposes. Districts within our state, Bellefonte included, utilize other formative, benchmark, and diagnostic assessments that provide more useful information teachers and students can use to truly inform the teaching and learning process.   This is where our time needs to be invested, not in large scale standardized testing that often misinforms our public.

Our State Department of Education, in all fairness, recognizes some of the deficiencies within this ineffective assessment system.  They understand the value of ongoing formative assessments and thoughtful analysis and utilization of that data.  They recognize the stress it places on our youngest learners, the countless hours lost in inquiry and instruction, and the administrative cost to districts as they divert manpower to manage the testing logistics.  They know, as we do, there are numerous variables that can figure into a testing scenario and wreak havoc with a student’s ability to convey what they know and understand on any given day -- yet, we continue to engage this process.   PDE, with the recent changes to ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act), are trying to capitalize on some of the flexibility granted to states and look at decreasing the number of hours spent in testing, possibly spreading out the testing across the year rather than squeezing everything into a tight assessment window, and perhaps, eliminating some of the double testing our 7th and 8th grade students, who are also taking the Algebra I Keystone exam need to contend with.   Still, this doesn’t get to the route of the problem - the testing itself and its perceived credible link as a measure of accountability.   But, in many ways PDE’s hands are tied, as are ours.

Yes, parents can elect to opt out of the testing, and you may contact your school principal to find out more about that process (opt out requests must occur two weeks prior to each testing window), but this does not solve the problem.  Often schools with large opt out populations are penalized by the state for their participation rates and could face sanctions.  Teacher evaluations are tied to this data and the loss of strong scores due to opt outs could unfairly misinform a teacher’s annual evaluation.  And, there will still be children that face the stress of the assessment process.   Because the assessment system is tied to legislation, the only way we can work to end this ineffective system is to lobby our legislators.  Reach out to them at both the state and federal levels and make your “ask”:  work to eliminate the current assessment system and consult with the experts, the teachers and administrators within the field, to develop better, more effective communication systems for conveying information about teaching and learning.  It may be too late for this year, but it is never too late to change the future.

Contact information for our local legislators:

Senator Jake Corman  
236 Match Factory Place 
Bellefonte, PA 16823 
(814) 355-0477 
FAX: (814) 355-6046 
 
House Representatives
Hon. Kerry A. Benninghoff
140 West High Street
Bellefonte, PA 16823 
(814) 355-1300 
Fax: (814) 355-3523 
 
Hon. Michael K. Hanna
102 Turnpike Street
PO Box 1134
Milesburg, PA 16853-1134
(814) 353-8780 
Fax: (814) 355-6056 
 
Click this link http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/ to access your local legislators’ contact information and this link https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials for your federally elected officials.   
 
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The Bellefonte Area School District believes in an inclusive and welcoming environment for all people.  We embrace diversity and work to ensure all people have access to equitable opportunities for learning and professional growth.  Board policies #103 and #104 govern our practice:
 
The Board declares it to be the policy of this district to provide an equal opportunity for all students to achieve their maximum potential through the programs offered in the schools regardless of race, color, age, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, ancestry, national origin, marital status, pregnancy or handicap/disability.

The Board declares it to be the policy of this district to provide to all persons equal access to all categories of employment in this district, regardless of race, color, age, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, ancestry, national origin, handicap/disability, or genetic information. The district shall make reasonable accommodations for identified physical and mental impairments that constitute disabilities, consistent with the requirements of federal and state laws and regulations.

Should you believe you have experienced an event or circumstance that is contradictory to our policy, please contact either our Human Resources department or the Superintendent's office.
 
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Helping parents meet the needs of our earliest learners is important to our district.  If you are interested in exploring any of the following pre-K opportunities - Head Start, Early Head Start, or PA Pre-K Counts, please call the Wingate office of CenClear at 814-353-0791 or reach them through their web address at:  www.cenclear.org 
 

Staff members click the image to access the 
safeSCHOOLS training website.

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Red Raider Magazine  
Red Raider Magazine is online
- click here - to view the latest issues. 

 
Source 4 Teacher
Bellefonte Area School District has partnered with Source4Teachers to manage their substitute teacher program. With the vision of enhancing the educational experience for students, Source4Teachers hires, trains, and places talented substitute personnel. Source4Teachers offer a variety of positions to match your availability and interests. Apply now to join the Source4Teachers team – we will give you the training and guidance you need to succeed!  Click here to apply now.

CIU 10 CPIST


 
 
 
 
 
                       

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