Safety, local STAR, APPR discussed at PTA meeting

The parents of the M.W. Downing school met with the building principal, Mrs. McDaid, on Tuesday, April 5th, but without a teacher representation.

About an hour was dedicated to the safety and security measures at the school. The review of 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.
mwd-downing-pta-meetingOrganizations regularly review their safety procedures and make sure all involved parties refresh their understanding of the procedures. At this meeting, the principal was, as she put it: “preaching to the choir” of about 20 parents. On several occasions, the principal mentioned she could make the procedures stricter. Such statements bring a question what policy is actually in effect, as the principal can’t arbitrarily change the 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). These local (STAR) tests are viewed 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.

Given the current edu. system uses the tests in the punitive nature, my children were not allowed to take them. Students who do poorly on the tests are punished by being forced to take them every 3 weeks (through AIS, or RTI) instead of 3x per year as mandated. 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 eligible students).
School districts have till July 1st to submit their new arrangement how the local (STAR in MUFSD case) tests will represent 50% of teachers’ professional reputation. (I wish a teacher was present at the meeting who would explain to interested stakeholders 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.


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