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School board, unions approve new teacher evaluation system

— The Skaneateles Central School District, after reaching agreements with its two employee unions, has approved a new plan for its teacher and principal evaluation systems as required by new state and federal education standards.

The new Annual Professional Performance Review — commonly shortened to APPR —is required from school districts in order to qualify for increases in state financial aid and is also part of the federal government’s Race to the Top initiative.

“You’re agreeing on how to measure teachers,” said Board of Education President Evan Dreyfuss. “We had to create a partnership [with our unions] to create a new appraisal system and we all had to sign off on it. Now the state has to approve it.”

The Skaneateles Board of Education approved its APPR resolution, along with Memorandums of Agreement with its two employee unions, at a brief meeting on Oct. 12.

Dreyfuss estimated that the district will receive a $30,000 increase in state aid by completing the APPR standards.

The district has been working with its two unions, Skaneateles Teachers Association and Skaneateles Administrators Association, for upwards of six months on the new APPR standards, which determine how teachers and principals get appraised each year, Dreyfuss said. Every subject discipline in every school in the district must have a performance review system in place — some subjects already have standardized review processes, but those that do not had to have processes created by the district and unions working together, he said.

The new APPR guidelines ultimately measure teachers and administrators, who are reviewed twice each year, with an overall rating of highly effective, effective, developing, or ineffective based on a single composite effectiveness score that is calculated based on the scores received by the teacher or principal during performance reviews. While the new system is controversial, it is intended to improve teacher and principal performance and effectiveness.

Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at editor@skaneatelespress.com.

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