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October 23, 2013

Local educators do well in statewide composite

By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Local superintendents said their teachers and principals fared similar or better than the findings in a preliminary statewide composite released Tuesday by the state Education Department.

The results, excluding New York City, were based on data submitted by school districts and BOCES by Oct. 18, from districts’ annual professional performance reviews - APPR, according to a release from the Education Department. Specific numbers for individual school districts will be released later this year, according to the state School Boards Association.

It found 49.7-percent of teachers are rated highly effective, and 41.8-percent are effective. In addition, 4.4-percent were rated developing and 1 percent ineffective. The data for principals showed 26-percent are highly effective, 60.9 effective, 7.5 percent developing and 2.1 ineffective. A small number not reporting make the totals less than 100-percent, according to the release.

Each district was required by the state to submit an APPR. It required 60-percent of the score to be based on reviews and 40-percent on student learning, officials said. While other schools are in the second year of the plan, New York City is in the first year, so no composite was ready, the release said.

Unadilla Valley Central School Superintendent Robert Mackey said every district will be a little different, because, except for the broad outlines, individual schools can interpret the requirements differently.

Unadilla Valley was comparable with the state findings, though there were no ineffective teachers, he said. Both principals are highly effective. He did not want to release more specific data without discussing it with the appropriate unions. Most schools would have a similar approach, he said. This is the second year that area schools have been involved with APPR. 

During that time “I have been in dozens and dozens of classrooms and I see better teacher practices and better engaged learners because of the effort,” Mackey said.

Working with administrators, it helps teachers use strategies to better engage students and improve achievement over time.

Sidney Central School District Superintendent Bill Christensen said district results for teachers are similar to the state average, though none were ineffective. All principals are highly effective.

 He was not surprised because “we were very pleased” with the academic results that drive 40-percent of the evaluation.

“Part of my job is to make sure all personnel are effective and if not help them,” he said. It’s the same with the principals, he said.

Delaware Academy Central School Superintendent Jason Thomson said the results reflect what he finds with his teaching staff. 

“They provide quality instruction day in and day out,” he said. 

Both principals had “high quality” ratings, he said. 

The ratings for both are “something that the community would be proud of.” 

He could only release specific data to parents or guardians of his students, he said.

The ratings are good indicators of success but “we are more concerned with academic achievement and growth and most importantly quality instruction,” he said. 

Time will tell whether the practices are worthwhile. They do not account for intangibles like a teacher’s ability to connect with a student or how to motivate them. 

“That’s difficult to measure,” he said.

The results are preliminary, state Education Commissioner John King Jr. said in the release. A significant amount of evaluation needs to be done, but “we wanted to provide a sense of the landscape. It’s clear that teachers are rising to the challenge.”