Move Comes After Current Provider Acknowledged Test-Scoring Errors
by Leslie Brody
The New York City Department of Education is seeking a new vendor for gifted-and-talented exams after its current provider, Pearson PLC, acknowledged major errors in grading the high-stakes tests more than a year ago.
The department planned to ask the city’s Panel for Educational Policy to approve a $2 million annual contract with Minnesota-based Questar Assessment Inc. at its public meeting on Wednesday night, but officials said they pulled the proposal from the agenda to allow more time to inform panel members.
Department officials said they sought proposals from vendors because Pearson’s three-year contract was expiring at the end of this school year, and recommended Questar Assessment after considering price, effectiveness, capacity and other factors.
If approved, the switch in companies would follow a turbulent period for testing into the coveted, highly competitive gifted programs in kindergarten through third grade. Former schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott criticized Pearson in May 2013 for failing to provide basic quality-assurance checks after a series of four scoring problems that year affected thousands of students, incorrectly telling them they weren’t eligible for the programs.
In one of the incidents, Pearson miscalculated students’ ages by assuming all students took the test on the same date; the scores are sensitive to precise ages because children develop so quickly. Pearson officials apologized at the time and said there was “no excuse” for the errors, some of which came to the company’s attention because of parents’ complaints.
Spokesmen for Questar Assessment and Pearson declined to comment Wednesday.
The city’s three-year contract with Pearson costs $5.5 million. Education department officials said that if a new vendor is approved, the contract would cover exams given in the 2015-16 year for placement into programs in the fall of 2016. This year’s exam will be the same as last year’s.
Every year, there aren’t enough seats in the citywide gifted programs even for students who score in the 99th percentile. The top-scoring students enter a lottery to get in. New York also has local gifted programs in most of its geographic districts that are open to students who live in the area and score well on the tests.
Joli Golden, a co-founder of Parents Alliance for Citywide Education, a group advocating for more gifted programs, said she hoped any new vendor would be meticulous in testing methods and scoring accuracy. She said she hoped the city would also devote enough resources to publicizing the admissions process, because “in high-poverty and immigrant areas there are some populations that are completely unaware of this test.”
The deadline is Nov. 7 to sign up for the winter tests for next fall’s gifted programs in kindergarten through third grade.
Click here: https://www.facebook.com/217pta
Our All For Books Change Drive raised over $600 during the Book Fair week. All funds raised were used to purchase books for 217 classrooms. Class 122 brought in the most change, and won Jousting Tournament with our Coach Luce today. Congratulations, Class 122!
Cornell Tech's Roosevelt Island Construction Project has a website for community engagement. This website is designed to provide updates to the community about construction progress and provide a forum for important construction announcements for the project.
This week we are launching 217 Fall Cherrydale sale! Catalogs and details for this family fundraiser will go home in backpacks. Take a look at all the great gifts and holiday gear we have available and let friends and family know that you will appreciate their support of our school with their orders!
Take your sale online! Visit www.cherrydale.com and click on "Seller Login" at the top of the page to set up your student's account. From there, you can send emails to friends and family to alert them about the fundraiser; they'll be given a special link to use so that your child will receive credit for each sale made. This is a great way to let grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other friends who live outside of our area help support the enrichment programs that our kids enjoy.
We have some great incentives in store for the students who become our top sellers - gift certificates, Cherrydale prizes, and... if we reach our goal of $6,000 in sales ... the MONEY MACHINE - check out the details in the letter coming home via backpack!
Thank you to all of the volunteers and for the donations that made the Halloween Party a success. We have raised $5,000 for the school tonight. The support of our families is what makes 217 such a great community!
A message from our Halloween Chairs Anna & Corinna: "217 Halloween Carnival was a complete success and it would not have happened without all of you. Thank you for attending with your children and making the event a great party! An extra special thank you to all of our parent and Middle School volunteers who set up, decorated, ran the event and cleaned up. You were amazing! Also, thank you so much to everyone who sent in candy and favors. Your generous donations allowed us to keep the prices of the activities low while also raising money for the school. We look forward to many more great events and fundraisers this year!"
Dear Families of 1st and 2nd Graders,
As a part of 2014-15 Parent/Guardian Workshop Series, the school invites you to the presentation that will take place on October 27, 2014 at 7:55-8:20 am.
The topic of the workshop by Ms. Cantor, Ms. Shuster, and Ms. Rubenstein will be "Math Games to Help Support Students Number Sense"
We hope to see you there!
A friendly reminder that you can pre-purchase tickets for the Halloween Carnival online until midnight tonight (Wednesday, 10/22) at a reduced price -- $10, which includes 5 tickets for activities and food.
Here's the link:
After that, tickets will be available at the event for $12.
Hope to see many of you there!
Picture day is this Friday, October 24
Help to line up the children, groom them for this picture perfect day - come to the gym, volunteer for an hour or two during school hours (see the class schedule below). Remember to bring you photo ID so you can sign in with the security officer to be allowed into the building.
Picture Day Schedule
8:45 am Classes 701 (Mr. Ulmann) and PreK AM (Ms. Lindman)
9:10 am Classes K001 (Ms. Rozenszweig) and K002 (Ms. Kaplan)
9:35 am Classes K004 (Ms. Shappee) and K005 (Ms. Willmen)
10:00 am Classes 122 (Ms. Cantor) and 124 (Ms. Rubenstein)
10:25 am Classes 123 (Ms. Shuster) and 202 (Ms. Papraniku)
10:50 am Classes 801 (Ms. Huang) and 678 (Ms. Harrison)
11:15 am Class 601 (Ms. Sorokurs)
11:40 am Classes K003 (Ms. Sterry) and 102 (Ms. Zucknovich)
12:05 pm Classes 101 (Ms. Howard) and PreK PM (Ms. Lindman)
12:30 pm Classes K006 (Ms. Pervez) and 201 (Ms. Ditaranto)
12:55 pm Classes 301 (Mr. Zappala) and 303 (Ms. O’Connor)
1:20 pm Classes 401 (Ms. Mosher) and 501 (Ms. Ciravolo)
1:45 pm Classes 503 (Ms. Disla) and 403 (Ms. Ho)
2:10 pm Class 345(Ms. Afodorcei)
2014 Parent Conferences - Chancellor Farina Opens The Doors at Tweed Courthouse and Invites parents in
Dear Public School Parent,
Chancellor Carmen Fariña opens the doors of Tweed Courthouse and invites you to attend the Fall 2014 Parent Conferences. These free, grade specific and informative events were created to support parents and to help them have an impact on their child’s education, both in school and at home.
There will be free breakfast, free childcare (for kids 5 and older) and plenty of giveaways, including free books. Plus, the Bronx Children’s Museum will have their wonderful interactive mobile exhibit that teaches kids about the Harlem River and The Bronx River.
These conferences will fill up fast, so act quickly while seats are still available!
Elementary School - Saturday, November 1
High School - Saturday, November 15
Middle School - Saturday, December 6
Click here for complete information, including translated flyers. I hope to see you there.
Executive Director - Division of Family and Community Engagement
▪ Attend our biggest community event this Fall - Friday, October 24, 3-6pm. Bring the whole family and invite friends! Children under 3 and accompanying adults enter free. Click HERE to buy your tickets early and save! Admission fee for the children ($10 early purchase or $12 at the door) includes 5 activity tickets.
▪ Volunteer for just 1-2 hours! We need help with set up/clean up, selling baked goods, supervising games, arts & crafts tables, and more. Please click HERE if you can help.
▪ We still need families to contribute the following: Bags of Halloween Candy andParty Favors - any kind (stickers, party toys, etc) Drop in the box in the Main Office or send in with your child BY WEDNESDAY
▪ Bake treats for our Bake Sale! All items must be individually wrapped for sale. Nut-free only please.
Capture these early school years with a Picture Day, coming up on Friday, October 24! Please remember to have your child bring to school an envelope with the completed order form and your payment.
Plan out your student's outfit! Don't wake up on the morning of the picture day and grab whatever is clean. Please no Halloween costumes in school this Friday - save them for Halloween Carnival immediately AFTER school (3-6pm) and dress up day during Spirit Week.
Help 217 line up the children, groom them for this picture perfect day - come to the gym, volunteer for an hour or two during school hours this Friday. Remember to bring you photo ID so you can sign in with the security officer to be allowed into the building.
217 PTA is extremely proud of this remarkable achievement. Our Direct Appeal has already raised almost $34,000 this school year. Thank you to each and every one of you! Classes K004 and 503 are just one family away from reaching 100% participation, followed by 122, 124 and K001. Please donate before October 31 to help 217 schedule enrichment programs for this school year! Help your class win a prize for 100% participation. Your support, no matter the amount, shows you care about your children's education. Every single dollar counts!
Click HERE to donate online today.
We ask for $500 per family, but please give what you can - the amount of your donation is kept strictly confidential. Make a check payable to "P.S./I.S. 217 PTA" or put your cash donation in a labeled envelope and deposit it into PTA mailbox (on the wall in the Kindergarten wing - 1st floor).
Sign up to volunteer at Friday's Halloween Carnival!
(http://vols.pt/H8F5dJ) on @VolunteerSpot today!