Sunday, January 13, 2019

Time to Opt In...

As we move through the winter months, our students and teachers begin to gear for the traditionally dreaded State assessments. However, these assessments were not always traditionally dreaded. It was a very unfortunate event when the State connected them to teacher evaluation, made them longer, and placed significant constraints on them all in exchange for federal dollars to help solve a fairly large financial problem for New York. Prior to that event (roughly 10 years ago now), the State assessments were common place and had been occurring for decades without any concern or complaint. The entire narrative changed in that single moment when the assessments were connected to teacher evaluation, and rightfully so. However, since that moment, many things have changed regarding the assessments, but the narrative remains the same. They are no longer counted toward evaluation, they are untimed, and they are two days long instead of three. Also, they are written by New York State teachers which means the assessments are in alignment with our standards and can be a better measure of our progress than before. What has also changed is the importance of a district's participation rate. Unfortunately, under ESSA, a district's participation rate can significantly cripple the operations. While on the surface, you won't see any data that directly says "participation rate" as a factor for improvement designations; you will learn through homework that participation rate is interwoven into almost all other factors. This can make a huge difference in a negative way for our kids and staff. In subsequent years from this years, schools could be required to develop plans to improve participation rates. This could divert important time and money away from our mission of educating our children, and push it to areas that have nothing to do with the classroom. Further, under ESSA, it is possible for the State to dictate to a district where their staff must be assigned, where resources must be allocated to, undergo reviews where "experts" tell our teachers what they "should" be doing in classrooms to improve our scores on State assessments, and require our buildings to develop plans that take significant time and energy away from a classroom. This can all occur simply due to a low participation rate. Regardless if whether or not the assessment data meets the benchmarks, this can and will occur in places. For that reason, it's time to opt in. The narrative has changed regarding these assessments and the negative impact on a community financially is not worth the game of chicken that we are all playing with these assessments. Being stubborn because of the past does not help our children or our schools anymore. Beyond the financial impact, students are losing the opportunity to learn and experience what a formal assessment is like. This will cause a wave of students who could struggle on Regents exams which are required to graduate high school. The State has listened to the teacher's unions and the parents. They have made necessary and demanded adjustments to the assessments to ensure that they are beneficial for schools and children. It's time that we hold up our end of the bargain and have our children participate in the assessment season. The benefits and the long range positive impact on our children and our school systems far out weighs the small, short-term gratification of playing hard ball. It's time to opt-in my friends. For our children, our schools, and our communities. The time is now to have our children taking the assessments and showing them through data that schools are working and that our teachers are amazing!!   

Winter Gear Giveaway

The Rome Rescue mission will be holding a winter weather gear giveaway on Monday, January 25 at four different locations. They anticipate to be providing coats, gloves, and mittens during their Mobile Mission Winter Gear Giveaway. There will be sizes that vary and they can't guarantee having the exact size that may be needed. This event will be held at Liberty Gardens (200 N. Levitt St.) between 12:00 p.m. and 12:45 p.m.; Park Drive Manor (430 Park Dr. Manor) between 1:00 p.m. and 1:45 p.m.; South Rome Senior Center (112 Ridge St.) between 3:00 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.; and Valentine Apartments (152 Turin St.) between 4:00 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact the Rome Rescue Mission. Thank you to the mission for everything that they do for our community and our schools!!

Breakfast of Champions

The Rome Sports Hall of Fame is partnering with the Rome City School District to promote and create opportunities for all girls in grades 7-12! We want to celebrate athletic participation and provide some opportunities to learn a sport and encourage them to continue participation through their high school years and beyond! In recognition of this endeavor, the Rome Sports Hall of Fame is hosting the Breakfast of Champions for JV and Varsity female athletes in grades 7-12 on Saturday, March 16, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Lake Delta Inn. The Rome Sports Hall of Fame wants to promote participation in all athletics by celebrating with our High School and youth in honor of National Girls & Women in Sports Day! The organization recognizes the extraordinary progress sparked by Title IX and the ongoing effort to ensure access to sports for girls and women. Research demonstrates that girls who play sports have better health, higher self-esteem, stronger leadership skills, greater academic achievement, and economic opportunity. Let’s work together through NGWSD to get these girls in the game and expand their opportunities both in sports and in life. ( The Rome Sports Hall of Fame invites  YOU to come celebrate with us and to be treated to a full breakfast and have the opportunity to hear about what athletics has done for successful women. Come hear about how sports changed their lives!!

Show Choir Festival 

Looking for a night of outstanding music and entertainment? This coming Friday, January 18, the RFA Show Choir will host their annual Show Choir Festival at RFA beginning at 7:30 p.m. Each year, show choirs from all around the region come together to perform an evening filled with top notch vocal entertainment, combined with visual artistry that is second to none. Stop on by RFA this Friday for an evening of music you won't soon forget!