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Saturday, April 19, 2014
School board calls for performance-review exemption
New state evaluation creates ‘undue burden’ in wake of Sandy
By Alexandra Spychalsky

As Long Beach continues to recover from Hurricane Sandy, school officials say they have turned their sights to the state education assessments, specifically the Annual Professional Performance Review.

“This is a pressure we don’t need this year,” said Superintendent David Weiss.

At the Dec. 11 school board meeting, trustees recommended that the superintendent, along with other local superintendents, petition the commissioner of education not to assess hurricane-affected areas with the state’s new annual teacher and student evaluation. “We should take the lead in terms of lobbying for our kids and lobbying for our teachers,” said Trustee Dr. Dennis Ryan. “Stop the madness for this school year.”

The APPR is an evaluation system used by the state to determine teacher effectiveness and student growth, according to the New York State Education Department website. It was recently adopted by the state, and this was to be the first year an APPR plan was implemented in the Long Beach school district. Some board members expressed dissatisfaction with the new system, while others argued that it is beneficial. Still, all agreed that the school district is at a severe disadvantage in the aftermath of the storm.

At the meeting, Weiss explained that, under the APPR requirements, student growth is measured by comparing a student’s score to other scores from across the state in the previous year, similar to the way a golf handicap is determined. “The assumption is that everyone’s growth is operating under the same condition,” Weiss said. “Well, the reality this year is that it’s not apples to apples.”

Board trustees expressed concern that in the district’s current circumstances — lacking proper resources, and with many students dealing with the difficulties of being displaced — the new system may not adequately reflect student or teacher achievement this year. Board President Roy Lester likened the situation to the mile run that middle school students must complete.

“Suppose you said, ‘Everybody runs the mile on a flat track, except Long Beach. They all have to run uphill,’” said Lester.

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