GV BOCES School Improvement

September 2022 Newsletter

News You Can Use

Embedded in the School Improvement (SI) newsletter you will find important updates, information, and resources from the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) & your regional Joint Management Team BOCES (Monroe 1 BOCES, Monroe 2 BOCES, Genesee Valley BOCES & Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES). Below are direct links that assist with staying current regarding news and changes at the state level.

Upcoming GV BOCES Featured Speakers

Daniel Willingham: Why Knowledge Matters


Most educators agree that the goal of education is effective thinking: being able to solve problems, engage with new ideas critically, and generate new, creative ideas. Over the last forty years, cognitive psychologists have gathered increasing evidence that these mental processes depend on and are intertwined with factual knowledge. In other words, it’s much easier to be a strong problem-solver when the question concerns a topic you know a lot about. In this talk I’ll explain the relationship between knowledge and thinking processes in reading, math, and science, focusing especially on the classroom implications throughout schooling.

When children start school, it is completely up to the teacher to see to it that students learn. But as they grow older, they become increasingly responsible for their own learning. They must learn how to read complicated texts independently, and not just for comprehension, but to remember the contents. They must learn to avoid distraction, commit content to memory, take notes, judge when they have studied enough, avoid procrastination, and more. Studies show that most college students use very inefficient strategies for most of these tasks. In this talk, he will summarize research from the last twenty years on a subset of these tasks, focusing on practical applications that can be communicated to students so that they can regulate their learning more efficiently.

Date: September 28, 2022

Dr. Paul Riccomini

Title: Boost Your Students Retention of Essential Mathematical Concepts and Skills

Description: Teaching new content is a major responsibility of teachers at all levels and all subject areas, but also supporting students’ retention is equally important. Do your students continue to struggle with remembering important concepts and skills? In this session, you will learn three powerful yet simple instructional strategies that can significantly boost your students’ long-term retention (also known as durable learning) of important mathematical content.

Date: October 19, 2022

Click the link below view ALL of the featured speakers for the 2022-2023 school year.

Using Multiple Measures to Determine Academic Intervention Services

The New York State Department of Education (NYSED) recently provided guidance on how to best determine students who are in need of additional support. Each year, school districts are required to develop or review their current Academic Intervention Services (AIS). NYSED also requires that school districts use a two-pronged approach to determining which students need to be considered for AIS. These qualities are as follows:

  • Students performing below the median scale score between a Level 2/partially proficient and a Level 3/proficient on a Grade 3-8 ELA or Mathematics state assessment shall be considered for AIS.


  • Upon identification of a student for consideration for AIS, districts shall then use a district-developed procedure that considers multiple-measures of student performance for determining which students shall receive AIS.

Regardless of the measures used, all measures must be applied uniformly and equitably, at each grade level and in each content area, when determining which students shall receive AIS. Below is a link to the complete memo for your convenience.

Continue Your Professional Learning

The School Improvement (SI) newsletter also strives to continue professional learning for school administrators, teachers, and staff even from afar. This section of the newsletter will provide readers with timely and relevant learning aligned to evidence-based practices. If you would like more on topics outlined in the newsletter, please contact the SI department. Our contact information is located at the bottom of the newsletter. Enjoy!

Can a Simple Test Blueprint Improve Student Outcomes?

It is quite possible that no word within the educational lexicon receives the depth of emotion that the word testing does. The deep, varied feelings range from fear to rage to apathy-- and these are just what the adults are feeling! Too often, it is assumed that the local educational community, i.e. teachers and administrators, are well-versed in assessment literacy concepts; meaning, they have the “knowledge and skills needed for effective use of assessment practices and results to both promote and measure learning” (Chappuis, Commodore, & Stiggins, 2017, p. 2). However, regardless of the frequency with which educators test, assess, or measure, there is often a knowledge or skill gap regarding effective assessment practices that exists-- through no fault of the individual; pre-service training significantly lacks in the area of assessment for teachers and administrators (Campbell, Murphy, & Holt, 2002).

So, the question is, where might be a place to start regarding closing the gap with effective assessment literacy and practices? Initially, a productive place to start might be with generating test blueprints for those traditional assessments that are currently being used. A test blueprint (Downing, 2006; Professional Testing, Inc, 2006) provides a list of major content and skills on the assessment, often in the form of standards, objectives, and/or targets, as well as articulates the complexity of the items, through Bloom’s or Webb’s, the number and type of items, the assessment method, and a breakdown of the percentage of items for given content and knowledge and complexity in relation to the whole test. Figure 1 represents an example of a test blueprint for primary math.

Big picture

Although this may seem like an odd place to start, there are three major benefits to engaging in the “blueprinting” process, at a minimum-- clarity of targets, alignment, and validity. By clearly articulating the standards, objectives, and/or targets through the use of a blueprint, the assessment writers inherently attend to the important notion of clear learning targets (Chappuis, Chappuis, & Stiggins, 2009). Denoting the targets on the test blueprint ensures that the focus of what to measure relative to what students know and are able to do is maintained. Tightly coupled with the notion of clear targets is effective alignment. If the targets are derived directly from the standards, then alignment should be clear; however, it is worth a note of caution to flesh out specific alignment to the standard as a whole. Finally, ensuring effective sampling of those clear targets, tied directly to the standards, will assist in ensuring the content-validity (accuracy) of the assessment items. “By taking such a systematic approach to outlining the make-up and constituent parts of a test, an assessment instrument with sound psychometric properties is usually ensured” (Hodges, 2007). Meaning, the practice of generating test blueprints can significantly improve validity.

Clearly, as Figure 2 (White, 2009, p. 21) argues, there is a supposed correlation between quality assessment practices and gains in student learning. Implementing test blueprints would be a low-risk strategy for assuaging some of the fear teachers have tied to assessment. Also, blueprints would greatly enhance clarity, alignment, and validity, which are important indicators of quality, without significant doses of professional learning. Doing so could create a win-win-win situation-- accurate assessment construction, accurate assessment inferences regarding student learning, and improved assessment literacy.


Campbell, C., Murphy, J. A., & Holt, J. K. (2002, October). Psychometric analysis of an assessment literacy instrument: Applicability to preservice teachers. In Annual meeting of the mid-western educational research association, Columbus, OH.

Chappuis, S., Chappuis, J., & Stiggins, R. (2009). The Quest for Quality. Educational Leadership, 67(3), 14-19.

Chappuis, S., Commodore, C., & Stiggins, R. (2016). Balanced Assessment Systems: Leadership, Quality, and the Role of Classroom Assessment. Corwin Press.

Downing, S. M. (2006). Twelve steps for effective test development. Handbook of test development, 3-25.

Hodges, P. (2007). Blueprinting the RCOG examinations. The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, 9(1), 53-57.

Professional Testing Inc. (Ed.). (2006). What are the steps in the development of an Exam Program. Retrieved April 26, 2017, from www.proftesting.com/test_topics/pdfs/steps.pdf

White, E. (2009). Are you assessment literate? Some fundamental questions regarding effective classroom-based assessment. OnCUE journal, 3(1), 3-25.

School Improvement Spotlights

School Improvement (SI) takes great pride in the work we do at the state level, regionally, and when working directly with component districts. This section of the newsletter offers insight into the work SI does and provides recognition to local districts that strive for continuous school improvement. Partnerships and collaboration are the key to everyone's success!

Leadership Institute 2022

August 3rd and 4th marked the annual Genesee Valley BOCES Leadership Institute at Holiday Valley Inn & Resort in Ellicottville, New York. This year’s two-day assembly of district leaders, from across the Genesee Valley region, was most enjoyable following last year’s unconventional COVID gathering. The Institute welcomed nearly 200 district, building and central office leaders from 24 of the region’s districts. One important goal of the Leadership Institute is to connect regional leaders, and provide an opportunity to work and learn together professionally.

Dr. Mike Schmoker, educational author, led the 2022 Institute keynote. He engaged participants with content, processes, and anecdotes that were intended to assist schools and districts in the pursuit of continuous school improvement that directly impact the success of student achievement. This keynote address comes on the heels of a regional book study of Dr. Schmoker’s text Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning. Specifically, Dr. Schmoker focused on three critical elements for sustained continuous improvement– a focus on: What We Teach, How We Teach, and Authentic Literacy. Dr. Schmoker (2018) argues that “the key to success is,” simply, “neither innovation nor technology. Rather, it is an abiding commitment to the ‘smallest number of high-leverage, easy-to-understand actions that unleash stunningly powerful consequences’” (Fullan as cited in Schmoker, p. 8).

Following the keynote, participants were exposed to fourteen breakout sessions where a number of facilitators from Genesee Valley BOCES, component districts, and outside vendors extended the learning from the content included in Dr. Schmoker’s keynote. Additional breakout sessions focused on topics that reflected the diversity of needs within the Genesee Valley region’s schools and districts. The topics that were included in breakout sessions included:

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • Professional Learning Communities

  • Sustaining Safe & Orderly Schools

  • Data Literacy

  • Teaching Sprints: Making evidence-informed professional learning decisions

  • Student Discipline

  • Career Opportunities in eSports

  • Classroom Assisted Learning

  • School Business Administrators Roundtable

  • Trauma-Informed Leadership

  • NYVirtual Schools Review

  • Authentic Literacy Across the Disciplines

  • Leadership Mentoring

Several component districts took advantage of the time and meeting spaces that Holiday Valley has to offer, by working together on long-range planning. Twelve district-administrative teams met, either before or following the Institute, with the purpose of working and learning together. These teams even took part in engaging team-building activities.

Genesee Valley BOCES would like to thank the Superintendent Subcommittee (SISC), as well as many other leaders in the region, for sharing their knowledge with the Genesee Valley BOCES region at the 2022 Leadership Institute. Although the Institute was packed with professional learning and focused team time, there were many opportunities to relax, recharge, and connect and learn with the leaders from across the region.

Next year’s Leadership Institute will be held on August 2nd and 3rd, 2023 at Holiday Valley Inn & Conference Center in Ellicottville, New York. We look forward to another great event in 2023!


Regional Collaboration Opportunities

Did you know that the Genesee Valley BOCES Professional Learning Service (PLS) Department offers 16 different regional Cohort opportunities? The Cohort model was established in the early 2000’s, in an effort to bring teachers and leaders together from across the region for collaborative conversations and improve professional practice. The Cohort model also allows participants to have access to professional texts, guest speakers, and timely information directly turnkeyed from NYSED meetings. In recent years many Cohort groupings have evolved to having an action research orientation in an effort to continuously improve teacher/leader practice. The link below will provide you with a list of the different Cohorts that are offered during the 2022-2023 school year. Please take a moment to explore what is available and feel free to share the link with those you feel might be interested in this type of professional learning opportunity. The Cohorts are great for all teachers and leaders from novice to veteran!

School Improvement Professional Learning for 2022-2023

Don't forget to check out the PLS 2022-2023 Catalog!

Follow School Improvement on Twitter

Don’t forget that you can follow the School Improvement Team (SIT) on Twitter. The team is often posting information about upcoming professional learning opportunities, educational resources, and strategies for the classroom. You can stay in tune with what is happening at Genesee Valley BOCES and the SIT by following #gvbocessit.

Need Support?

Please direct all requests for service to the Director of School Improvement, Stephanie Burns at 585.344.7923.