Let the testing begin

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“We certainly have to do everything that we can to make kids college- and career-ready,” he said. “Teachers ought to be teaching to the same high standards no matter where in the 50 states you go. I’m just concerned that we’re rushing into this, and it’s going to reflect poorly upon school districts.”

Teacher performance on the line

The new teacher evaluation system now ties student test data into teachers’ yearly performance grades. State education officials say they expect roughly the same number of teachers to be ranked in each category — highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective — as last year, despite the projected decline in scores.

Valley Stream educators say that doesn’t do much to ease the minds of teachers who are concerned about their jobs. “Teachers are feeling stresses,” Heidenreich said. “It’s a lot happening at once.”

He expressed his support for the district’s teachers, saying that a 98 percent Regents diploma rate doesn’t happen without effective staff.

Fale said that he believes the new teacher evaluation system was put in place to address deficiencies in underperforming large city school districts. The majority of suburban districts already had strong, effective evaluation plans, he said, but all districts have had to implement the new system at great expense, both financially and educationally.

Heidenreich added that he is pleased that the State Education Department will not identify schools in need of improvement based on 2013 test scores. Two years ago, Memorial Junior High School made a watch list because of the performance of a small subgroup of students on the ELA exam.

Stirling said it is important to note that the state tests are not the sole indicator of how students, teachers and schools are performing.
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