Yorktown Superintendent Explains Why District Opts Out Of 'Race To The Top'

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Yorktown Schools Superintendent Dr. Ralph Napolitano outlined his and the school district's concerns with the data security aspects of the "Race to the Top" program. Photo Credit: File

Dear Parents, Guardians and Members of the Yorktown Community,

I hope that this letter finds you and your family well and enjoying the season.  I am writing to you about a very important decision that our Board of Education made back on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013.  Based upon my recommendation, the Board of Education has opted out of the Race to the Top (RTTT) funding.

For the past decade, New York school districts have worked to process student test data. The student information travels from the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center (LHRIC) in Harrison to a storage center data warehouse at the New York State Department of Education.  Every district uploads student test data with approximately 150 possible data points per student.  In return, district administrators and teachers receive information in aggregate that helps to inform their instruction.  The system is tried, tested, secure and has been in operation for many years.

With RTTT funding, the New York State Education Department has now determined that up to three times the amount of data per student must be provided to the state via a different process and to a different provider, the non-profit organization, inBloom.  The Yorktown community does not feel the same level of confidence in the amount of data being requested nor the security of these data.  Also, we believe that the additional personal information should not be shared without parent notification and consent.

Perhaps most compelling, the district does not intend to choose an additional third vendor, a “data dashboard” to share data with parents and potentially other commercial vendors.  This new requirement of transference of confidential student data via untested systems and with unknown commercial interests is of great concern.  As a result, Yorktown Schools will be opting out from data sharing beyond what is mandated.  All other Race to the Top and Annual Performance Professional Review (APPR) requirements will stay in place, since New York is part of the federal RTTT initiative.  It is on this singular matter of data sharing that we, in addition to more than 25 other local school districts, are opting out.

I was invited to share these concerns with the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) at a public meeting with over 60 parents in attendance on Wednesday, November 6, 2013.  Please click here to access a modified version of the presentation. 

I can assure you that in the Yorktown Schools, we will continue to maintain our philosophy of whole child education, which is the foundation for everything we do.  Our administrators and teachers will work hard to follow all RTTT mandates and maintain important student/parent relationships as we continue to implement the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS).  We will prepare our children for a bright and productive future where their knowledge, skills and values are used to make a difference in their communities and world. 

Please contact PTSA Council President, Lisa Olney, or the Parent Advocacy Liaison, Melissa Cancro, at ycsdadvocate@gmail.com for more information about participating in the regional parent advocacy program.

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