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Three Village School District Wraps Up Pre-Testing

Process of pre-testing sets a benchmark for teacher evaluations.

Many students across Long Island have completed exams meant to test their knowledge of certain subjects before they actually complete courses in those subjects, according to a report in Newsday, and Three Village students were no different.

In Three Village this practice of pre-assessing began the third week in September and wrapped up last week, according to Kevin Scanlon, the district's assistant superintendent for educational services.

The district tested students at the secondary level "for the purpose of determining a growth score," he said. Since the 2012-2013 school year is the first time the school district will have to complete teacher assessments via its state-mandated annual professional performance review (APPR), it's the first time students at the secondary level have been tested this way. Scanlon said the tests won't count as part of the students' grades in those courses.

"This is not a test where the students are being grilled like they would be for a Regents exam or a state assessment," Scanlon said. "This is a determination score to see what level they're at right now. It will actually help drive instruction for the rest of the year to see how much the students know at the current time compared to what they are accumulating [in] knowledge at the end of the year."

John B. King Jr., New York state's commissioner of education, told Newsday that the process of pre-testing has proven effective.

"Ultimately, the question is whether there is value in determining the knowledge and skills that students bring to the first day of class," he said. "And the answer is clearly ‘yes.’"

The APPR process evaluates teachers in three ways: 20 percent of that evaluation comes from a set of criteria handed down by the state; 20 percent comes from a set of local criteria that the school district develops; and 60 percent comes from classroom observations. The teachers will be graded as either highly effective, effective, developing, or ineffective.

Scanlon said the pre-assessments will help later in the year when the district completes its "local 20 percent" evaluation scores.

The teacher evaluations have in the past been a somewhat controversial topic because the teachers' overall scores will be available for parents to view. In a recent interview, superintendent Cheryl Pedisich said those overall scores will be available in August or September for the previous school year's performance. Parents will be allowed to request scores only for their children's own teachers.

The state approved Three Village's APPR plan in August and at that time, the district was one of only 13 districts on Long Island to have a plan in place. Pedisich said the transition to the state-required plan was easy because Three Village already had a robust evaluation system in place, including piloting the use of the same software the rest of the state is now using to track the teacher evaluations.

"We're moving forward in all of the observations and evaluations as described in the APPR plan," Pedisich said. "... I feel very confident at this point in what we're doing and how we're moving forward."

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