Tag Archives: College

Hudson Valley Pathways Academy

P-tech is just one of the interesting educational options for students in Ulster County. If you have a student in the middle school in the Kingston City School District, be sure to check out the Hudson Valley Pathways Academy. 12 students from Kingston are enrolled in the freshman class each year.

The mission of the Hudson Valley Pathways Academy (HVPA), a small publicly funded secondary school on Mary’s Avenue in Kingston, is to graduate students with both technical knowledge and real-world skills. In a world as rapidly changing as ours, that’s no small ambition.

New York State Tests Fail to Measure College Readiness

According to a report released by The Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz, the New York State tests for grades 3-8 do NOT measure likely readiness for college so why did many of our kids just sit for six days of testing?

“This carefully researched analysis adds a serious dimension to the current debate in New York state on the value of testing in our elementary and middle schools,” said Benjamin Center Director Gerald Benjamin. “The center looks forward to reactions to this work, and consideration by policy makers of its implications.”

A fundamental purpose of the state’s testing programs in grades 3-8, following the adoption of Common Core State Standards, is measuring college readiness, with the goal of creating opportunities to intervene when necessary.

However, the Benjamin Center report finds that estimates of college readiness derived from the NYS Grades 3-8 ELA and math assessments do not align with actual measures of college readiness, such as college remediation rates. O’Donnell argues that this misalignment is a disservice to our students, our teachers and our education system more broadly.

“Measurement is dependent on tools that give a useful result,” O’Donnell writes. “A sprinter has no use for a broken stopwatch; a tailor needs a tape measure that is not torn. If the current NYS Grades 3-8 assessments cannot accurately measure college-readiness − their stated intention − we must ask: what’s the point?”

- The Benjamin Center press release, May 2, 2017

Even if you can not read the full 16 page Benjamin Center report, please read the following portion from the Implications section of the report.  Problems still abound related to the state testing, however if you have a student in the class of 2022 or beyond (currently in grade 7 or below), you should be significantly worried.

To be clear, we certainly must address the fact that approximately 50 percent of all New York students do not graduate or graduate without being fully prepared for postsecondary education. This percentage is far too high. But the current NYS Grades 3–8 tests, as demonstrably poor indicators of their stated purpose, will not help us get to where we need to be.

Further, despite the recent moratorium on using NYS Grades 3–8 ELA and math assessment scores to evaluate students or teachers, there are still significant implications that stem from their misalignment with actual college-readiness metrics. First, these assessments are used to characterize the condition of education in NYS and are utilized as a decisive factor in determining which schools are “failing” and, thus, subject to receivership. Second, state- and local-decision makers are encouraged to use the assessment results on an advisory basis in the evaluation of teachers and principals, so the scores will still be calculated, retained, and made public.xxxii This keeps open the possibility that educators will be assessed retroactively when the moratorium is lifted. Finally, New York’s public school students will continue to be subjected to lengthy examinations that are likely to incorrectly label them as off-track for college readiness and provide little-to-no useful feedback to educators.

As we move forward, the stakes get even higher for students. The Class of 2022 will be required to pass CCSS-aligned Regents examinations at the “aspirational” level in order to graduate. The 2015 results on these new exams foretell a coming graduation crisis: 57 percent scored at the aspirational level on the ELA exam, 23 percent on Algebra I, and 24 percent on Geometry.xxxiii If those rates hold, two-thirds or more of the Class of 2022 will not graduate from high school (compare to the Class of 2015 graduation rate of 78 percent). In terms of magnitude, this will mean an overnight loss of more than 90,000 high school graduates, of which 35,000 are fully prepared for college success, using the actual college-readiness metric of non-remediation.

Meeting for KHS Parents

Hey Kingston High School parents!

If you can make yourselves available, stop by the Kingston High School auditorium between 6-8pm tonight.

KHS guidance counselors will be speaking about the college application process, financial aid, scholarship, NCAA, College Board Testing and the college search process from 6-7pm.

The KHS PA meeting will follow at 7pm with a brief presentation from Ulster BOCES regarding the many programs available to students through the Ulster BOCES Career and Technical Center and then move into discussion of discipline changes before the Jefferson Committee and any other issues of interest/concern to parents at the meeting.

Financial Aid Night for KHS Parents of Seniors – Thursday October 29, 2015

College Application Week is taking place this week at Kingston High School.  Events during the week provide seniors with help in navigating the college admission process.  Events have been announced on the district website and to students via KHS-TV.

Tomorrow Thursday October 29, 2015 at 6pm in the KHS Auditorium, parents are invited to attend a Financial Aid/FAFSA presentation presented by SUNY Ulster’s Director of Financial Aid, Chris Chang.


NEW PSAT given in high schools today

Did you know that the PSAT was given during school hours today Wednesday October 14, 2015?  Did your 11th grader take the NEW PSAT today?

My KHS senior took the PSAT in 10th grade, as recommended by her teachers, in order to prepare to take the SAT in 11th grade.  The test was administered on a Saturday morning.  I distinctly remember having to leave home very early to get my daughter to the test.  KHS students were notified this year that only 200 11th graders would be able to take the PSAT and it would be administered during school hours.

The PSAT is a practice test which allows students to become acquainted with the types of questions that they will face on the SAT which they will be taking in the spring of 11th grade.  There will be a new format to the SAT in the spring and the PSAT has been redesigned to give students practice for the new test.  The PSAT will be administered on Wednesday, October 14th at KHS.  This test will only be available for 11th graders and we have a limit of 200 students who will be able to take the exam.  In the past, KHS has always offered the PSAT on a Saturday, however this year the College Board is only offering the PSAT during the school day.  This has placed some constraints on our ability to administer this test, which is why it is only being administered to the 11th grade students.

I just checked the school district website and apparently the test was opened to 10th graders but this occurred sometime after the KHS Back-to-School Night on October 1 and I didn’t happen to see the change until today.  Hopefully 10th grade students who did want to take the PSAT realized they could sign up.

PSAT Information

The PSAT will be administered on Wednesday, October 14th at KHS, periods 1-5.  We are now opening registration to 10th graders on a 1st come 1st serve basis. We only have 200 slots for this test. Students can register for the test in the Guidance Office. The fee is $15, cash or checks made payable to Kingston High School. Students will be given an admission ticket and a booklet that contains a practice test and test-taking tips and strategies.

Here are some articles on the redesign of the SAT:

Whether the redesign of the PSAT/SAT turns out to be ‘good’ or not, my question is how did the College Board, a private organization, get the authority to decide a change is in order for colleges to know whether students are ‘college-ready’ or not and also dictate how students here in Kingston will spend their academic hours (taking the PSAT test today).  I don’t remember local or state discussions giving this authority to the College Board – did I miss them?

This article from New Canaan, Connecticut reporting that the governor and Connecticut state department of education are planning to require all 11th grade students to take the SAT as their mandatory 11th grade assessment this school year gives me even greater cause for concern.

Moreover, many families and students are learning that the 2016 SAT is completely new, and essentially experimental. The College Board (under the direction of the Common Core creator, David Coleman) has revised this test to align with the Common Core standards. Ironically, the new version of the SAT will have many of the same shortcomings as the 11th Grade SBAC. It has limited reliability and validity, is based on controversial standards, and experts are predicting a drop in scores for at least a few test administrations. Having a student take it willingly and knowingly is one matter. But announcing that all students must sit during the school day for this two-hour assessment, replete with issues, which will impact their transcript, all while there is an alternative, is unfair.

Furthermore, many colleges are offering test flexibility when it comes to the college-entrance process and are looking for more holistic approaches to evaluating students. According to U.S. News and World Report, 195 of the 850 test-flexible universities are deemed top-tier schools.  Considering that high school grades and course choice are better indicators of college readiness than standardized tests, this flexibility makes sense. Clearly, the long-held belief that taking the SAT is the only gateway to obtaining a college education is no longer the reality.

UPDATE October 15, 2015 12:30am:  Good grief!  ELL students in New York City HAD to take the PSAT today?!?

The College Board needs everyone to Be Accountable. That’s why they sent the application material to the school, for thousands of kids, and gave only three days to prepare. In our school, the ESL students are given the materials to fill out in class so they don’t have to do so right before the test. And this is indeed a job. First of all, I only got the materials yesterday.

Here’s the thing with kids who don’t understand English–it isn’t easy to get them to follow directions. So yesterday, in my morning class, I organized all the students who had to take the exam. Then I started to explain what they had to do and wouldn’t you know it? They didn’t understand.


I’m glad we got through this, but I question how much my non-English speakers benefit from sitting through a grueling exam with instructions far too difficult to follow. Is it that important for NYC to support College Board and its near-monopoly on testing? When is College Board, or New York State, or someone going to acknowledge that kids who don’t know English have distinctly different learning priorities and needs than those who do?

Or is that too much to ask?

Turns out all New York City public school students in grades 10 and 11 take the PSAT for free (whether it will benefit them in any way or not).  Families don’t have to register the students and I wonder if parents even know the test is taking place?  Probably not for the ELL families.

I guess my concerns that New York students might be required to take the SAT, like is happening in Connecticut, aren’t as far-fetched as I thought they probably were.  If New York City students HAVE to take the PSAT, is the SAT really that far behind?

News for Kingston High School Parents

If you are a parent/guardian of a student at Kingston High School and are not part of the Kingston High School Parents Association, please consider joining.

Fill out the form below and you will be added to the KHS PA distribution list.  Include your name and email address as well as your KHS student’s name and grade in the comments section of the form.


The following e-mail was sent out to KHS PA members today:

Dear Kingston High School Parents Association members,

Welcome to the 2015-2016 school year!

The KHS PA exists to support parent involvement and communication between school and home.  You will receive occasional emails (several today but generally only one or two a week) with information that we hope you find useful.  You are also invited to come and chat with other parents at the KHS PA meetings.

The first KHS PA meeting is Thursday October 22, 2015 6:30pm at Kingston High School.

Also mark your calendars for HOPE 2015 hosted by the KHS PA on November 14, 2015.  The Helping Others Protect Everyone conference is for parents and students in grades K-12 and will focus on ways to resolve conflicts and improve relationships in our homes and communities.

HOPE 2015 Save the date flyer 6 8 15

Upcoming dates/events for KHS PA members :

  • KCSD Board of Education meeting September 16  7pm Cioni building – presentations on KHS Capital Project and Building a Better Broadway plan
  • College Night Tuesday September 29  6pm – 7:30pm KHS Field House
  • KHS Open House Thursday October 1  6:30pm – 8:30pm
  • KHS Homecoming Parade and Football Game Friday October 2 5pm
  • SAT (old format) Saturday October 3  KHS register at www.collegeboard.com
  • PSAT (new format) Wednesday October 14  KHS 11th graders ONLY
  • KHS PA monthly meeting Thursday October 22  6:30pm KHS room 107
  • SAT (old format) Saturday November 7  KHS register at www.collegeboard.com
  • HOPE 2015 conference (flyer attached) Saturday November 14, 2015 9am – Noon KHS
  • ACT Saturday December 12  KHS register at www.actstudent.org

KHS Construction :  An article on the district website details access to KHS for students, teachers and visitors starting today as well as traffic patterns during construction.

KHS TV Announcements :  If your student is not able to hear the daily announcements in class or if you want to know what is in the announcements, printed copies of the announcements are available in the guidance office.  The announcements are also posted each day on the school webpage under KHS-TV Announcements in the left sidebar.

Last week the KHS students saw an interview with KHS 10th grader Alexina Chasin who participated in the teen Chopped competition on the Food Network.  Here is the KHS-TV video and here is a newspaper article about her participation.  You can also find an article about Alexina on the school district website.  Watch Alexina in the second level of competition tonight!

If you are aware of any information that other parents would find helpful, please contact Jolyn Safron, KHS PA President so the information can be shared with KHS PA members.  Also if you have any questions or things you are wondering about, send a note to Jolyn.

Here’s to a great year for our students at KHS!

Jolyn Safron, KHS PA President


News for Kingston High School Parents

If you are a parent/guardian of a Kingston High School student and would like to receive information such as what is included below, join the Kingston High School Parents Association (KHS PA).

I am the president of the KHS PA and I am shamelessly promoting membership because getting parents connected and helping parents to be informed is very important to me.  There are no membership fees for the KHS PA and meeting attendance is not required although talking with other parents is the fun part!  To join just fill out the form below and you will be put on the email distribution list.


News and reminders for KHS PA members:

  • Check out KHS merchandise designed by the KHS Graphic Arts Club – click here for an order form.  Order deadlines are May 4, 2015 or May 18, 2015.
  • Scholarship announcements from KHS-TV:  **Attention Seniors!  The Anita Williams Peck Public Speaking Scholarship is now available.  The first place prize is $3500 and the second place prize is $2500.  If you are interested, there will be an information meeting in room 205 during 9th period.  There will also be a meeting on Monday (5/4) during 9th period.  These meetings will give you all the details and information you need to prepare a speech.  See Ms. Still or Ms. Scorca if you have any questions. **Attention students!  There are some new scholarships available.  Please go to the guidance office for applications.
  • Are you registered to vote in the upcoming Board of Education/Budget vote on May 19, 2015?  If not, the last day to register is Tuesday May 5, 2015.
  • Coffee and Conversation with BOE and Superintendent – Tuesday May 5, 2015 7:30-8:30am  Quick Chek Albany Ave
  • KHS BLT meeting - Thursday May 7, 2015
  • SUNY Ulster will be at KHS on May 8, 2015 to do onsite registration.  Click here to make an appointment.
  • Registration for the June 6 SAT and June 13 ACT at KHS is DUE by May 8.  If you have any questions, check the Guidance page on the KHS webpage or talk to your student’s guidance counselor.
  • KHS Yearbooks can still be purchased online until May 22, 2015.  Click here and enter school id 11812715.  After May 22 yearbooks can be purchased at KHS.
  • KHS Football Fundraising Auction – May 8, 2015 6-9pm Mariner’s Harbor  Click here for ticket information and items being auctioned.
  • If you will be hosting a prom or graduation party, please be mindful of not only the safety issues outlined in this letter (drinking and driving) but also of the potential legal consequences if alcohol were to be imbibed by minors at the party.
  • Final KHS PA meeting of the year – Tuesday May 26, 2015 6:30pm room 107



New York kids ready for college?

Isn’t the whole point behind common core and all these standardized tests because New York kids aren’t “college-ready”? So why is New York ranked as the 4th best state for K-12 education with a special emphasis on how well states are preparing kids to go to college according to this article?

Have we been sold a bill of goods?

So which states are doing the best job of maintaining strong public school systems? To answer that question, SmartAsset looked at ten across-the-board metrics of education, placing a special emphasis on how well states are preparing students for college. For each state, we considered the percentages of students taking the SAT, ACT and AP tests, and the average scores for those tests. We also looked at the state-level funding-per-student, the student-teacher ratio, the high school dropout rate and the percentage of high school graduates attending college after graduation (read more about our methodology below).

After analyzing the various factors, the article comes to the conclusion:

The state of New York invests $20,376 annually for every student in its public education system, second only to Vermont. That investment is paying off. It has the sixth-highest college attendance rate of any state in the country, with 71% of high school graduates attending college within 12 months of graduation.


Meetings and events for KCSD Parents this week – November 17, 2014

Below are some meetings that might be of interest to parents in the Kingston City School District this week:

  • Autism Parent Support Group – Tuesday November 18 6:30pm Chambers
  • Ulster County Legislature Session – Tuesday November 18 7pm – 6th floor County Office Building – discussion/vote on Resolution 350 supporting repeal of Common Core
  • Board of Education Meeting – Wednesday November 19 7pm JFK – agenda here
  • Budget Forum – Thursday November 20 6pm Cioni
  • Financial Aid Night – Thursday November 20 6pm KHS auditorium
  • Parent Education Night – KCSD Curriculum Changes (grades K-8) – Monday November 24 6:30-8pm Miller

There are a number of PTO/PTA meetings this week as well as special events for parents in many of the elementary schools in celebration of American Education week.  Check the district calendar or your school calendar for specific dates.

The first KCSD concert of the season is tonight (Tuesday November 18), a Pops Concert at KHS (click here) and the full winter concert schedule is available here.  Miller Middle School is performing Hairspray Jr. this weekend – click here for times and ticket information.

If you know of an event/meeting that should be added to this list, send me a message so I can update the list.  Also send me a message or call me if you find this sort of list helpful and you would like to see it be a weekly feature on Jolyn’s Education Corner.




Invitation to SUNY Orange – Bridges Program for Special Needs Children

Just want to let parents know of a new program for high school students being developed in Orange County.  It is open to families throughout the Hudson Valley.  Check it out and contact Mr. Heller if you plan to attend the October 9 meeting.


Subject: Invite to SUNY Orange – Bridges Program for Special Needs Children

> I invite you to a meeting on Thursday October 9 from 7:00pm – 9:00pm to hear about a new program that SUNY Orange is developing called the Bridges Program. The meeting will be held at the Gilman Center, Library, Middletown Campus. The library is directly across from the Shepard Student Center on South Street and below is the link to campus directions/map for the Middletown Campus.
> The Bridges Program is a program being developed by SUNY Orange at both its Newburgh and Middletown campuses to accommodate children with special needs that are either aging out from high school or are ready to graduate from high school, and are not likely due to their disabilities of successfully completing a 2 or 4 year college degree program, even with appropriate supports. The Bridges Program will fill a gap that doesn’t currently exist in the Hudson Valley.
The basis for the Bridges Program is to expose these children to college level courses in areas that they could successfully complete, with appropriate accommodations, but avoid subjects that would be impossible for each child, and expose them to college level academics, socialization and sports, and concentrated training and internships in the work place to bring students to the highest level of independence that each can achieve. The idea is to work together with organizations like Occupations, Inc. and the business community to combine a college level program, work experience and independent living skills to avoid the need to place these kids in group homes or other institutional type programs, because they have no alternative after High School.
We have already had two meetings – the first was a meeting to propose the idea to Dr. Bill Richards, President of SUNY Orange and the second was a presentation by his staff of their vision for the Bridges Program. The SUNY Orange staff is truly excited about this program, as am I, and are working to implement this program as soon as possible, with a planned starting date this year (if possible). The meeting on October 9 is a repeat of the 2nd meeting and is open to anyone that is interested in learning about this program – for their children, for children of friends or relatives, for educators and anyone that works with students with disabilities and for the business community to see how they can work together with us to make this program a success. According to Dr. Richards, some fundraising will be necessary – he anticipates that three years of start-up funding is needed and will thereafter be self-supporting, with tuition and some fundraising.
If you are interested in learning more about the SUNY Orange Bridges Program, please attend. If you know anyone that is interested, please pass along this message.
I look forward to seeing you on the 9th – if you plan to attend, please email me so I know how many to tell the College to expect.
Glen L. Heller gheller@hvc.rr.com