By David Prenatt
SHERMAN - Sherman Central School District Board of Education learned Thursday of several changes that required in its implementation of the Annual Professional Performance Review and the Common Core Learning Standards.
Sherman Principal Michael Ginestre presented the changes to the board, noting that most of them involve simplification, use of eDoctrina and iReady programs, state growth measures and local achievement measures. These changes will result in putting more control into the hands of the teachers, he said.
Sherman superintendent Kaine Kelly noted before the presentation that Sherman was one of the first districts to submit an APPR plan last year when it was first mandated and so the plan was accepted. Several other districts followed Sherman's lead, however, and had parts of their plan rejected by the state.
Ginestre said that all of the change will take place at the state and local levels, which account for 40 out of 100 points of a teacher's assessment. Under the original plan, twenty points come from student growth, based on state assessments; 20 points come from local assessments and 60 points come from observable professional practice.
At the state level, teachers must show academic growth based on student learning assessment. Teachers were required to write Student Learning Objectives, assessing the student's progress through state assessment tests, however, this will no longer be a requirement, Ginestre said. The 60-point observation measures will remain unchanged, he said.
Kelly said after the presentation that the shift to the APPR and CCLS programs have been difficult, but have really challenged teachers. "One thing I can say about the APPR for sure is that it has started to make teachers have conversations about curriculum. We are seeing a higher level of instruction," he said. "I think the shifts in Common Core are positive. In year two now we are able to see the value of what we are doing."
In other business, the board welcomed three new teachers. Frank Lewczyk will teach special education; Bradley Barmore is the new physical education teacher; and Casey Delles will teach English and Language Arts.
Kelly reported that the Parent Teacher Association plans to donate funds to help update the sound system in the auditorium. The district brought in a sound expert to assess the system which was "notorious for sound problems," he said.
The expert's findings were good, Kelly said. "Basically, we have an old 1940s gymnasium that was converted to an auditorium. We've been trying to project the sound to the back and this causes a lot of feedback," he said.
Kelly said the expert determined the problem could be resolved with the addition of a few speakers halfway to the back. This will allow the sound to reach the back without having to turn the sound projection volume up so far.
Kelly also reported on a new communication structure he has initiated among departments. "Even though we are small, we are very lean in staffing. There's not a lot of time to talk to each other," he said.