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Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of March 25, 2019

Dear Families,

This year, the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade NY State English Language Arts Tests will take place April 2 - 3 and the Math Tests will be administered May 1 - 2.  TNS students who do not take the state tests will continue the important and meaningful work they engage in everyday.  Please let me or your child’s classroom teacher(s) know as soon as possible if your child is going to take the NYS Tests this year so we can organize staffing and materials accordingly.  We will have a Forum on testing Monday at drop-off in the PTA Room.  Most of the meeting will be Q&A, but teachers, members of the Advocacy Committee and I will give some context to the discussion first, including:

  • What do “high stakes” mean?

  • What does opting out of the tests mean for middle school admissions?

  • What do the testing days look like for those children taking the state tests?

  • What do the testing days look like for those who will not be taking the state tests?

  • How to we talk with children about about opting out (or not)

We hope that by attending this forum, you will have a better understanding about what testing looks like at TNS and what the tests mean for your child and the school.  

Our annual Spring Fling & Auction is April 4, 6-10pm, at the Manny Cantor Center.  Want to know what is in store for the evening?  The TNS Parent Band, In Utero, is working hard on an incredible night of live music.  Dinner that evening will be catered by the fabulous TNS-owned restaurant, Bricia.  80s Costume is completely optional, but we do have a celebrity auctioneer, Ally Sheedy, lined up to go with our 80s theme!  Hundreds of great auction prizes donated by supportive and generous TNS families and local businesses.  Please join us for what promises to be a wonderful night!

Mark your calendars:

  • Tuesday is TNS Restaurant Day at Wagamama.  Wagamama has generously agreed to donate 15% of sales back to the TNS PTA; just mention TNS when you dine.  Friends, family, neighbors are welcome, too. 55 Third Ave @ 11th St.

  • SING is Wednesday at 8:45AM in the auditorium.  We will have a bake sale in the lobby beforehand.  

  • Friday is a TNS Half-Day.  Dismissal is at 11:45AM.

Warmly,

Dyanthe

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of March 18, 2019

Dear Families,

In my letter last week, I shared that NY State now manipulates the English Language Arts (ELA) and Math test data in ways that penalize our school and schools like TNS, who have a large number of parents choosing to opt their children out of these tests.  

I want to remind you that in NY State, parents have the right to decide if their child will take the State tests or opt out.  Students who do not take the tests are not subject to any penalty or disciplinary action, and in TNS’s case, students who do not take the state tests will continue the important and meaningful work they engage in everyday.   

I will speak about this more at Thursday’s PTA meeting, but in the interim, I am including a letter about NYC parents’ rights from Brad Lander, a councilmember from Brooklyn.  

Mark your calendars:

  • Caroline, Grace and Dianne leave with their class to the Manhattan Country School Farm Monday morning; they return Wednesday.  Matt’s class leaves Wednesday and returns Friday afternoon.

  • The Diversity Committee meets Tuesday at drop-off in the small cafeteria.

  • Parents of Unique Kids Support Group meets twice this week: Tuesday morning and again Thursday at 4:30PM in the Library.

  • The PTA meets Thursday at 8:40AM in the PTA Room.

  • Wanda, Dara, Dianne & Shaquawn, Caroline & Grace, Jane, Alexis & Corinthia and Erin’s class go ice skating Friday.

Have a good week,

Dyanthe

Advocacy News

What Assessement DOES NOT look like at TNS!

Many other schools get caught up in test preparation, so much so that it affects curriculum. Dyanthe and some of our teachers will share their thoughts about what we don’t have to do at TNS, and their experiences with other educational environments focused on testing and test preparation.

This will be the third information session in a series organized with the Advocacy Committee. If you missed the first session on assessment at TNS or would like to revisit our teachers’ remarks please see the video recording available here, below, in TNS Advocacy News.

The other two sessions are:

1. “State testing days at The Neighborhood School,” March 25, 8:30AM Second/third and 4th/5th grade teachers and Dyanthe will share what testing days look like at TNS for students who take the tests and those who don’t.

2. “What is performance-based assessment?”, date TBD Learn about The Neighborhood School’s pilot program using Performance Based Assessment for graduating students.

These information sessions are organized in collaboration with the Advocacy Committee, an independent parent- and guardian-led group dedicated to informing the school community about education policy. For more information or to get involved please join us at the events, and contact the Advocacy Committee.

Dyanthe’s Weekly Letters

Week of March 11, 2019

Dear Families,

For the past 6 years, our school has had a high opt-out rate with respect to NY State Math and English Language Arts tests.  Last week, I learned that last year and moving forward, all opt-outs will be weighted as 1s (well below proficient in standards) and will be included in our State Performance Accountability Data.  Opting out of the NY state tests will NOT penalize individual students; they will continue to be recorded as opt outs.  The DOE seems unclear about what this means for schools with high opt out numbers like TNS.  For now, TNS and others are on “potential Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) Status.” I hope to have more information to share at our next PTA meeting on Thursday, March 21.

We will continue to support the families who choose to opt-out their children out of the tests and equally support those who do not.  TNS students who do not take the state tests will continue the important and meaningful work they engage in everyday.  Grade 3 – 5 families are asked to speak to their teachers about opting out of the State Tests during conferences so we can organize staffing and materials accordingly.   

Teachers and I will meet with families Tuesday morning at 8:35AM to discuss the implications of standardized testing and test prep in NYC elementary schools.  Our opt out numbers have allowed us to maintain higher standards for assessment and to enjoy greater academic freedom in curriculum.  Grace and Sofia will talk about the challenges and pressure teachers and students faced when when test prep and the state tests played an important role at TNS.  Anthony and Mara will share their experiences working at other NYC DOE schools. Please join us for this very important meeting.

Mark your calendars.  It’s a really busy week at TNS:

  • Olivia, Lindsey and Mildred leave with their class to the Manhattan Country School Farm Monday morning; they return Wednesday.  Jane’s class leaves Wednesday and returns Friday afternoon.

  • Family conferences are this week!  Please be sure to sign-up for a conference time with your child’s teacher.  Wednesday is late night conferences and Thursday is a DOE half-day for conferences.  Dismissal is at 11:45AM. If you have any difficulty signing up for a conference, please call the school office and we will help coordinate a time for you.

  • There is a bake sale with meal deals Wednesday during conferences.  Folks can grab a slice of pizza and a cookie for $5! Or choose Mac N Cheese with a side of ‘slaw for $5!  Lots of other baked treats will be available, and we will also have coffee and juice available. This is a fundraiser for the TNS Yearbook + Graduation.

  • Pie Day is Thursday!  This is a fundraiser for the Farm and Camp trips.  Slices will be on sale at drop-off and all afternoon.  The cost? $3.14 per slice of pie.  Coffee is $2, or $1 if you bring your own mug

  • The ECO Committee meets Friday at drop-off in the small cafeteria.

  • Hannah, Catlin, Shaniqua & Chelsea, Lindsey & Olivia, Matt and Joanne & Sofia’s classes go ice skating Friday.  

Have a good week,

Dyanthe

Advocacy News

TNS graduates return to talk about middle school

For our family, one of the most important parts of the school tour was having 5th grade students guide us.  I was impressed by the confidence TNS had in its students, a confidence justified by the bright, thoughtful, and conscientious pair of students who took us from class to class and answered our questions with unexpected maturity.  We were lucky to have some TNS graduates back at school to help us parents once again!

This session was held at 6PM, February 13th.  Several graduates from the Neighborhood School generously agreed to return.  They talked about their experiences transitioning from TNS to middle school, and took a few questions from parents.

This was the second information session in a series organized with the Advocacy Committee.  If you missed the first session on assessment at TNS or would like to revisit our teachers remarks please see the video recording available here:

http://tnsny.org/posts/view_news/6512

The other three sessions are:

1. “What assessment doesn’t look like at TNS?” on March 4, 8:30 AM

Dyanthe will talk about assessment systems and metrics used in most public schools in NYC and why/how TNS has been able to use measures more aligned with our progressive philosophy.

2. “State testing days at The Neighborhood School,” March 25, 8:30AM

Second/third and 4th/5th grade teachers and Dyanthe will share what testing days look like at TNS for students who take the tests and those who don’t.

3. “What is performance-based assessment?”, date TBD

Learn about The Neighborhood School’s pilot program using Performance Based Assessment for graduating students

These information sessions are organized in collaboration with the Advocacy Committee, an independent parent- and guardian-led group dedicated to informing the school community about education policy.  For more information or to get involved please contact the advocacy committee at TNS.

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