Mattituck schools struggles with new state-mandated standards

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | District representatives who spoke at the Sept. 20 school board meeting said administrators will have to spend much more time doing teacher observations this year.

The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District is struggling this year to live up to new state-mandated standards for teacher evaluations.

District representatives who spoke at the Sept. 20 school board meeting said administrators will have to spend much more time doing teacher observations this year due to new teacher annual professional performance reviews, known as APPR, which impose far more stringent measures of whether teachers are effectively doing their jobs.

The district is also creating and implementing new tests, known as student growth assessments, which students will take at the beginning and end of the school year, to measure the improvement in their ability to grasp the material over the course of the year. Teachers are to be graded by the state on their students’ ability to learn the material in the classroom. Mattituck and other districts were charged by the state with coming up with their own methods to measure student improvement over the course of the school year.

School districts throughout the state spent most of last school year fighting the requirements, which officials said were bound to be a drain on their districts’ financial and human resources.

Superintendent Jim McKenna said principals and assistant principals at district schools will need to spend eight to 10 weeks of the 40-week school year observing teachers and writing up reports to send to the state.

“We know it’s going to be a drain. We’re trying to stick with it,” he said.

Mattituck High School principal Shawn Petretti told the board that his school plans to spend $2,000 on Scantron forms alone for the new student growth assessments.

He said teachers have already begun giving the tests, which are designed to show how much the students learn over the course of the year. Ideally, he said, their scores would improve 30 percent between September and June.

“This way, every teacher gets a true rating on student growth,” he said.

The assessments must be scored by other teachers within the district.

Mr. Petretti added that the district is still trying to figure out how to create assessments for performance-based subjects like art and music.

“This is pie-in-the-sky stuff in Albany,” he said.

Board members said they agree with the administration that the new regulations are onerous.

“The amount of time and the amount of effort and money we and other districts are spending on this just seems a little ridiculous,” said board president Jerry Diffley.

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