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Pelham School Boss: District Is Smarter, Tired From NYS's New Common Core

(Stock photo) No Pelham teachers or principals received a score of lower than effective on the state's APPRs, according to the superintendent.
(Stock photo) No Pelham teachers or principals received a score of lower than effective on the state's APPRs, according to the superintendent. Photo Credit: File photo

PELHAM, N.Y. – Results of the newly implemented New York State testing program were denounced on Monday by Pelham schools Superintendent Peter Giarrizzo during a Pelham Board of Education meeting, one week before the district must provide its teachers and principals with their performance reviews.

The Pelham Union Free School District is a smarter and more tired learning community after implementing the common core, testing and teacher evaluations, Giarrizzo said on Monday.

“We have to be so deliberate to be sure that joy remains in the work that we do every day,” he said, explaining mixed emotions of sadness and anger over recent changes to public education.  “I’m angry and I’m frustrated because I see so much effort expended on initiatives foisted upon us by New York State at a senseless pace with inadequate funding reform and no clear vision for how these new initiatives will lead to improved teaching and learning in our schools.”

District officials were warned over the summer that scores on the State’s testing program, which was intended to assess college and career readiness for New York students in grades three to eight in English Language Arts and mathematics, would be significantly lower than previous years.

“I will never understand how it is useful to use this information as evidence of the performance of our students, our teachers and our principals.  It makes no sense to me,” Giarrizzo said.

All things considered, Pelham students performed among the highest in Westchester on the new assessments.

“However, these results hardly pass any sort of ‘who cares’ test to me,” the superintendent said. While Giarrizzo said he supports and welcomes new high standards, the testing results indicate that the state should be concerned given that the assessments were meant to rate college and career readiness.

Giarrizzo said he hopes it will be useful one day to better align the district’s curriculum to the common core. “I’m not sure it really helps us do more than that,” he said.  “Rather, it is more useful for our teachers and principals to engage in the study of multiple data points to ensure integrity to the teaching and learning process.”

Additionally, Giarrizzo likened the Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPRs), which the district must publish to teachers and principals by Tuesday, Sept. 3, to building a plane while it’s already in the air and heading toward a mountain. The ratings don’t help him improve the district’s teaching and learning and matter very little, he said – adding that day-to-day supervision, rubrics and the classroom observations are what he holds stock in evaluating teacher performance.

No Pelham teachers or principals received a score of lower than effective, he said.

“We’re better than this in Pelham; we are bigger than this in Pelham,” he said. “We’re doing this because we have to do it.”

The Pelham Union Free School District opens its classrooms to 2,765 students on Monday, Sept. 9.

To read more about how Pelham students scored on the State tests, click here .

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