FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT'S DESK
Annual Professional Performance Review Standards: Improving Education
As students continue to settle into their normal school routines and activities, one key change may have been noticed in the beginning of the year — the presence of pre-assessments. These tests are part of New York State’s new Annual Professional Performance Review standards that take full effect this year. The most imperative aspect to remember when examining APPR is that it is in place to rate education, not students.
Every school district in the state is now required to submit a detailed APPR plan, outlining how teachers and administrators will be evaluated in compliance with state education laws and regulations, as part of the federal Race-to-the-Top grant received by New York State.
The pre-assessments given to students in the beginning of each school year are used as a tool by educators to gauge a student’s level of learning and targeted growth percentages. Assessments include ELA and math in kindergarten through eighth grade, in addition to social studies and science in sixth to eighth grade. High school Regents courses are also utilized as a benchmark.
It is important to again emphasize that the new APPR is in place to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers and administrators. Students will be able to use the assessments as a tool to gauge their growth and education from beginning to end of year, but the APPR is not in effect to judge or rate any students.
The rating of teachers and administrators is based on two parts: 60 percent of the score is from thorough classroom observations and 40 percent from student achievement, as measured through state assessments. Teachers are being graded on their effectiveness weighed against NYS Teaching Standards.
Another buzzword in education that many have been discussing lately is the shift to common core standards, which come hand-in-hand with the APPR initiative. These changes are solely curriculum based, requiring students to focus more heavily on abstract thinking, critical reading and analytical skills. The work students do under the new standards is more complex and intricate, preparing them for college and future careers in a competitive global environment. The new common core standards, which unify educational standards throughout the state and country, span from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in English Language Arts and mathematics. They were phased in during the previous school year and all districts are now fully aligned with the standards.
Pre-assessments are used to gather baseline data in the beginning of the year and students are then re-tested at the end of the year to show growth and what skills they have attained throughout that year. These benchmark tests will serve as a landmark to indicate where students are at currently and how much they improved over a time period.
Everyone, from parents to teachers and principals, has a vested interest in the success and growth of all students. This will translate into a more rigorous educational course for each student and a better comprehensive understanding of important subjects — a benefit that will prepare students well for the globally competitive workforce of the future. #
Dr. Carole Hankin has served as the superintendent of the Syosset Central School District for 23 years and is on the boards of the Mathematics Museum of New York and the Peconic Bay Medical Foundation.