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Superintendent Mooney Sees Challenges, Rewards

As Port Washington Schools Superintendent Kathleen Mooney looks forward to the opening of school on Monday, she’s very confident that she and her staff are well equipped to meet the challenges that the State Education Department has created, especially in regard to making sure students meet higher standards

Last year was the first year that students in Grades 3 to 8 were given State standardized tests based new “common core” requirements in Math and English Language Arts.

“There’s been a lot of changes in the testing process,” said Dr. Mooney. “This was the first year that the students were tested on the common core yet we have not been give the chance to fully implement the instruction of the common core.”

“The state education department has been moving us into a different direction,” she explained. “We are working towards understanding what that will mean for us and how we can better prepare our teachers so that they can better prepare our students.”

Asked to look back at her first year as superintendent, Dr. Mooney was candid in an interview in her office last week. “I do believe that we learned many lessons last year in a variety of ways because of the weather circumstances and Sandy Hook,” she said, referring to Hurricane Sandy and the school violence in Newtown, Connecticut last December.

The storm caused an unprecedented disruption to instruction. “I want to reassure the parents that we are very dedicated and committed to providing their children with the highest quality education,” she added, confidently. “We will work through the challenges associated with learning the common core standards and we will continue to support parents and students as we learn those issues.” New York is one of 45 states and the District of Columbia that have adopted common core.

To meet the demands of the new standards, Dr. Mooney is emphasizing the importance of teacher training. “We’ve been working on a professional development plan, part of which is being done with the teachers,” she said. “We’re also bringing in trainers to work with teachers on-site regarding the ELA and we’re also piloting two math programs this fall and looking to select one of those programs.” In addition, both teachers and principals will be working under a new state approved job evaluation system.