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Common Core On Board’s Mind

NHP-GCP Board of Ed question impact on teacher evaluations

Common core state testing standards dominated the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Board of Education held a work session meeting on Monday, Oct. 21. The bulk of the meeting was spent discussing the standards and the methods of evaluating teachers as “effective” or not.  The common core functions in conjunction with the Federal Race to the Top reform efforts and were implemented to establish a “common core of standards that are internationally benchmarked.”  

Not all schools have found the CCSS effectively. Many of the tests were put in place before teachers had a full year to prepare students for the new curriculum’s, according to district officials.

“I am not against the Common Core; I’m against the implementation of it,” says board trustee Joan Romagnoli.

District Superintendent Robert Katulak also weighed in on the issue of standardized testing, stating “We can’t say tests don’t mean anything, but it’s tricky.  As long as I’ve been here we’ve had standardized tests.”  The board expressed concerns at the way the test results are impacting teachers.  

According to Katulak, the most proficient teachers are now often rewarded with the best students to continue their positive rankings. But this results in the struggling students getting passed off to new and inexperienced teachers when they really deserve the attention of the better educators.  He says this is a nation-wide problem.

The common core is also indirectly tied to new Annual Professsional Performance Review Plan (APPR), the new teacher ranking system. Under the new APPR plan, 60 percent of teacher ratings would be based on classroom observations, 20 percent on students’ scores on state standardized tests, and 20 percent on a list of three scoring options.

That could include locally developed tests, exams offered by third parties or a simple doubling of the value placed on the state tests. School boards in Nassau County had to negotiate the final 20 percent with their local unions.

Katulak offered an explanation of how the point-based ranking system functions.  Each district decides on an instrument to measure teacher effectiveness, the Danielson method is common on Long Island but is not a universal standard. The bulk of the points come from this, he say, “although other factors such as growth from year-to-year are also considered.”  

Should the CCSS resolution pass in all schools, Katulak would like a provision included that the results of the tests be made public to educators.  That way teachers can be better prepared for the types of questions that tripped up their students.