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School reviews slated to begin

Thursday, February 14, 2013 - Updated: 5:10 PM

By REBECCA WEBSTER

Recorder News Staff

During Wednesday's Greater Amsterdam School District Board of Education meeting, board members heard some updates on the New York State Education Department's review process and the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR).

Robert Mark, director of elementary instruction, told the board that there are five buildings in the district that are identified as "focus" or "priority" schools by the state.

Following next week's winter vacation for the schools, Mark said the William B. Tecler Arts in Education Magnet School will have its state review, a three-day process of "actual on-site time."

Mark said the process will include two days of classroom visits and interviews and one day of work, writing up a report.

Mark said he spoke with Tecler faculty about the process so that everyone feels comfortable.

"The state will come back in mid-March to do their review of (the Ralph J) McNulty (Academy of International Studies and Literacy Magnet School)," he said.

And this year, the Marie Curie Institute of Engineering and Communications will do its self-review, Mark added.

The third review piece, the district review, was pushed back, he added.

One of the night's resolutions that the board passed called for staff members of the Capital Area School Development Association, who have been approved by the state, to provide the district with services as Outside Educational Experts as part of the review process for a fee not to exceed $48,720, paid out of a School Improvement Grant.

"The other portion is that the state requires we perform a series of surveys with the students related to the building a staff," Mark explained, adding that he is still waiting on some information about what company they will go with for the surveys.

The survey talks to students about their experiences in the classroom and will go to the review team for them to pair with the on-site reviews in order to help determine the "cause or series of causes" for the schools being named "focus" or "priority."

Susan Stoya, director of secondary instruction, said later that Amsterdam High School will also be doing a full review this year, but that has been pushed to April.

On the APPR end, Michele Downing, director of data and personnel for the district, said they've been moving forward since the plan was approved at the end of November.

Any free time -- like superintendent's conference days, workshops, and even free time during faculty meetings -- has been used to get teachers up to speed on the Danielson framework, she said.

"Everything is electronic so we don't have the paper shuffle."

Downing showed the board an example of the software that the district is using for the reviews.

"The communication here is fast. People know right off the bat what is going on," she said. "They get right back to their building principal. It's working very nicely."

Downing said the most important part is that even though it's required, the teachers and administrators are sitting down and talking about teaching and instruction and the good things that are happening in the classrooms.

"Some of the teachers that were apprehensive at the beginning are saying it's a good thing."

     

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