The parents of the M.W. Downing school met with the building principal, Mrs. McDaid, on Tuesday, April 5th, but without a teacher representation.
They dedicated about an hour to listen to the safety and security measures at the school. The review of safety guidelines was triggered by a recent post and comments on a FB page. The principal explained the situation in question and used the meeting to review other, related regulations, e.g. morning dropoffs, afternoon pickups and bus loading procedures, dealing with an ill child, etc.
Organizations review their safety procedures on a regular basis and they make sure all involved parties refresh their understanding of the procedures. At this meeting, the principal was “preaching to the choir,” as she said. About 20 parents were present at the meeting. On several occasions, the principal mentioned she could make the procedures stricter. Such statements bring a question of who is actually setting the policy in the Malverne school district. The principal can’t arbitrarily change the school policy. That task is reserved for the school board, respectively for the residents.
Among other matters discussed:
The PTA committee/board and nominees for elections were finalized. The members should vote at the next meeting in May.
Mrs. McDaid plans a parent academy in October. The academy will concentrate on how to read the STAR assessments in the parent portal. (She didn’t specify if she plans to borrow the time from a parent-teacher meeting). The educators present these local (STAR) tests in a positive light, as they help teachers modify the instruction. The tests are computer-based and adaptive. Meaning, they adapt to student answers. The more wrong answers the student gives, the easier questions become. The results are immediately available and measure student’s progress. The test creators intended the tests to be administered 3 times a year to document progress.
Given the current edu. system uses the tests in the punitive nature, my children were not allowed to take them. The educators train students to become great test-takers. Students who do poorly are punished by being forced to take the tests every 3 weeks through AIS, or RTI. And since they must not miss ELA or Math, students are pulled out of art, gym, and library classes.
The system also punishes teachers who are at the mercy of students who enjoy “adapting” the program to easier questions, unknowingly or deliberately putting teachers’ professional reputation in jeopardy.
Since the NY Assembly was not able to sever the local tests from APPR (teachers evaluation) due to opposition from the NY Senate, the local tests will assume in SY 2016-17 the role of the NY standardized tests. (Yes, those tests that don’t mean anything and are being refused by half of the eligible students).
School districts have till July 1st to submit their new arrangement on how the local (STAR in the Malverne school district case) tests will represent 50% of teachers’ professional reputation. (I wish a teacher was present at the meeting who would explain the difference between evaluation sections 3012-c and 3012-d and why it is beneficial to remain in the former during the “transition” period ending 2018-19).
I suggested a parent academy on the renegotiated local STAR tests to be organized before the tests are administered. Usually, the first week of the school year.