The yellow buses are back. Another school year is upon us.
“I had a big lump in my throat,” said Gina Carrera of Essex Town, VT.
Gina Carrera has 2 children attending Essex Middle School this year. She says meeting national Common Core standards is a concern.
“I'm sure that it's really hard for the teachers because they have to find new ways to teach their children in their classroom,” said Gina Carrera.
But Essex Town School District Superintendent Mark Andrews says that work is complete.
“What we're excited about this year is that that curriculum and core content areas have been aligned to those national standards which is just awesome work," said Andrews.
A controversial point in these Common Core standards is how both students and their teachers are assessed.
“We definitely see the value in using these tests to see, for taking a snap shot of how the students are doing on that particular day,” said Jill Remick, Director of Communications at Vermont Agency of Education. “To use it to grade the teachers or to make some kind of sweeping determination about how the school is doing is not really necessarily what those tests really can tell you."
In New York, students take the New York State Testing Program. For the first time in Vermont and New Hampshire, 3rd-8th and 11th graders will taking the SBAC, or Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test instead of the NECAP. It is an online exam.
“The exam will actually adjust depending on how the students answer to get harder or easier to really get a much better sense of where the student is at rather than simply just a pass or a fail,” said Remick.
“Curriculum is no longer a static document,” said Andrews. It has to be a living document that reflects society and what kids do today."
Superintendent Andrews says the focus in Essex will be focusing on depth rather than a breadth of topics.
This year there are about 85,000 Vermonters in the public school system. That continues a decreasing enrollment in the state since the late 90's.