Jul 30, 2014
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Northport Principals Silent on Teacher Evaluations

Northport principals are noticeably absent as hundreds of their colleagues across Long Island sign an open letter vocalizing their opposition to the state Education Department's new standards for teacher evaluations.

Northport Principals Silent on Teacher Evaluations

As principals from more than 90 of Long Island’s 124 school districts endorsed an open letter opposing the new state-mandated Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) regulations, the Northport-East Northport school district was one of the few names not on the list of signatures.  in the Elwood district joined the effort.

The new plan calls for teachers to be graded. Twenty percent will be based on student growth on state assessments or other comparable measures; another twenty percent on locally selected tests; and the remaining sixty percent on multiple criteria such as observations and other local measures to be determined within the district.

Teachers will receive an overall composite grade of Ineffective, Developing, Effective, or Highly Effective.

In the open letter, the principals took issue with the 100 point rating system and with tying the rating to test scores. They also expressed concern about the cost and time to implement the system while districts grapple with the two percent property tax cap, and would prefer to see the plan implemented more slowly.

Sean Feeney, principal of The Wheatley School in Old Westbury, co-wrote the letter with Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in Rockville Center. At the end of the day Wednesday, 368 signatures had been gathered.

By mid-afternoon Thursday, Feeney said that number had risen to 396, representing 60 percent of all principals on Long Island.  The  total number of signatures which included non-principals, was up to 722, and included districts in other parts of the state as well as superintendents. Feeney said the effort has now been opened up to include everyone such as parents and PTAs.

Asked about the lack of a response from the Northport-East Northport School District, Feeney said an extensive outreach was done to all principals on Long Island.  “Carol (Burns) and I have put ourselves out there, and our colleagues – those who signed – put themselves out there. For 60 percent of principals to stand up and say stop, that says something.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Norwood Avenue Principal Michael Genovese said he had a lot of people asking him if he had signed the letter. “Nobody reached out to me, I can tell you that.”

Northport Middle School Principal Tim Hoss said he was aware of the new APPR evaluation but was “out of the loop” on the open letter.

Phone calls to Superintendent Marylou McDermott, as well as to principals at East Northport Middle School, Bellerose, Dickinson, Fifth Avenue, Ocean Avenue and Northport High School were unreturned by the end of the day Wednesday. Pulaski Principal Jeffrey Haubrich was out of town and unavailable for comment.

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