Rye School District Superintendent Dr. Eric Byrne, Assistant Superintendent Sheryl Goffman, along with School Board President Katy Keohane Glassberg took time to go over the test scores with The Rye Record, and took part in a wide-ranging discussion of student performance. Below is a summary of that conversation.

What about the Common Core? “The whole thing is being rebranded,” said Dr. Byrne, “There is no such thing as a ‘Common Core Curriculum’. What we have is a set of learning standards.” He also said that the tests do not count for anything until 2020, and are not currently used for teacher assessments.

Dr. Byrne knows his way around testing and instruction. He came to Rye from Chappaqua, ranked second in ELA and first in Math testing. How did they accomplish that? “We threw out the testing workbooks,” Byrne said. “Teachers there are still not worried about the tests.” To Byrne, tests are just one piece of a very complicated puzzle.

As to how Rye improved its rank in ELA, Glassberg commented, “Our ELA score went up because we did a lot of work on it.”

Goffman remarked that test data is one way to assess “but we have a variety of ways to look at individual student performance.” She noted that the State only began sharing the questions with the District last year. Also, in class, students look at a whole story and how it is constructed, which does not lend itself to ELA multiple- choice questions.

Byrne and Goffman, are laser-focused on teacher development as the key to achieving classroom results as schools move towards what the State now calls Next Generation Learning Standards. “When administrators – principals – are together, it will be about professional development,” Byrne said. “We ask, what do our teachers need? Teachers need support.” And in Rye, Byrne has found, as he continues one-on-one interviews throughout the District, teachers crave development.

To that end, the District is concentrating on an expanded relationship with Columbia Teachers College to improve professional development. Goffman is working on a new report card to improve feedback between parents and teachers. Byrne believes classroom coaching needs to be sustained, where students and teachers are side-by-side. “Classroom-based development is the real improver.”

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