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PCS Board of Education Reviewing APPR policies

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POTSDAM - The Potsdam Central School Board of Education is reviewing new policies in connection to the recently implemented APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) teacher evaluation system.

Included in the policies is information on how parents can receive information on their children’s teachers.

“We’re not going to take a parent’s request over the phone,” said Superintendent Patrick H. Brady. “We felt that since we’re dealing with personnel evaluations, the parents should come in and meet with the principals and receive an explanation of the score.”

Mr. Brady said by law a teachers’ evaluation scores must be made available to parents with students currently enrolled in that teacher’s class.

According to the policy, “Upon request, the district shall release to parents/legal guardians the final quality ratings and composite effectiveness scores for teachers and principals to which their child is currently assigned. Parent/legal guardians may contact the building principal to set up an appointment to receive, in person, the final quality ratings and composite effectiveness scores for their child’s designated teacher(s) and principal.”

According to the policy, which is written in accordance with state law, evaluations are not subject to Freedom of Information Law requests to members of the general public.

Mr. Brady also explained that information disseminated to the parents will only include the teacher’s final score on a scale of 100 and not a breakdown of how that score was achieved.

According to a scoring chart provided by the district, teachers with a score between 0 and 64 would be considered ineffective, teachers with a score between 65 and 74 would be identified as developing and teachers with a score of 75 to 90 would be considered effective. Teachers earning scores between 90 and 100 would be deemed highly effective.

The district is also working on a policy that would prohibit parents from requesting specific teachers for their children.

“We haven’t had a lot of parents requesting teachers, but with these evaluations that could happen,” Mr. Brady told the board. “It’s a recognition that with APPR teachers will be receiving scores.”

While the district has never had an official policy on parents requesting specific teachers for their children, Mr. Brady said the policy is in line with the district’s past precedent.

“The policy itself is not unlike our practice,” he said. “The district generally doesn’t honor parental requests, but that information is taken into consideration. Ultimately the final decision lies with the building principal.”

While the policy aims to eliminate requests for teachers, the policy does give parents the right to submit information to building principals prior to classroom assignments being made.

“While the district does not honor parent requests for specific teachers, parents may provide the principal with detailed information on teacher attributes that best support the learning needs of their children,” the policy reads. “For example, principals may take into account information on student interests and activities, academic factors,learning styles, social skills, classroom environment and academic goals. If desired, parents can submit such information, in writing, to the building principal addressing the learning needs of their children.”

According to the policy, such requests must be made prior to May 1 of the previous school year, and letters that contain requests for specific teachers will not be considered.

“If such letters include requests for specific teachers, the letter will be returned to the parents with instructions to revise the letter with a focus on the child’s learning needs,” the policy reads.

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