The Onteora Central School District Board of Education approved new parameters for the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) at its August 16 Board of Education meeting at the Middle/High School. Developed by Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Marystephanie Corsones, Onteora Administrator’s Association and the Onteora Teachers Association from state mandated rubric (based on education law 3012-d), the result may come as welcome news for students and parents as “it minimizes the amount of testing, put on the students,” said Corsones in a separate interview. “I wish I could put it in simple terms for you, it’s incredibly complicated,” she said. But overall, she continued, “it does mean there will be less tests. And what it allows us to do is put out for recapturing instruction time.” On the amount of testing that is reduced she said, “I can’t give you a count, but I can tell you it’s significantly less.”
The news will primarily affect students in Kindergarten-through-grade-six. The new APPR protocols will be sent to the New York State Department of Education and await approval. That can take up to ten days, said Corsones, but she is confident it will get approved in time for this coming school year.
In December of 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo released recommendations from a Task Force he put together after facing a fierce backlash of protests from parents, students, and teachers, about rigid testing standards that took away instruction time, and caused stress on students. The result was recommendations on less testing, test questions, and more transparency in alignment with curriculum and the test itself. The new tests will need to be aligned with Common Core Curriculum by 2019.
Corsones said there were three components under the old APPR plan — observation, student assessment, and student learning objective. The new plan was reduced to two components: teacher observation and student performance. Teacher observation is based on four-performance levels: highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective. This is similar to the States four tiered test scores, where the lower levels require a certain amount of educational intervention.
Temporary transportation detour plans
Transportation for the coming school year offers an extra set of complications due to roadwork throughout the district. “Since the bridge closure on Route 212 happened on August 8, I’ve had a few families of the Lake Hill, Willow area ask me when they will get information from Transportation,” Trustee Laurie Osmond said, “because everyone is concerned, probably rightly that there is going to be half-an-hour extra of their kids transit time because of this closure.” Interim Superintendent Victoria McLaren answered, “They will definitely be getting a copy of the runs soon. I met with the director of Transportation today and she mentioned it and a couple of the runs will be extended because you do need to go around.” She said once the work is done, they would go back to the normal route.
New superintendent to take the helm next week
This was McLaren’s last Board meeting as Interim Superintendent. On Monday, August 22, Bruce Watson will be taking the helm as the district’s new Superintendent. Board President Bobbi Schnell thanked McLaren for, “her guidance, as Interim.” Schnell also mentioned that McLaren won the “Woman in leadership award from the Ulster County YWCA.” She will receive her award in October. McLaren thanked the board and said, “It was a pleasure working with everyone and this year was very fun and exciting, a great learning opportunity and I appreciated it. Thank you.”