JOHNSTOWN - Greater Johnstown School District officials Thursday night touted the success of the new teacher evaluation program mandated by the state for all school districts.
Officials told the Board of Education, during its meeting at Warren Street Elementary School, that faculty members are dealing well with the state Education Department's new Annual Professional Performance Review plan evaluations, which include more early testing.
"I am confident that we will glean the best out of this program," Superintendent Robert DeLilli said. "It's going to be about the learning."
The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich
Superintendent Robert DeLilli talks about the new teacher-performance evaluations with the school board on Thursday night at Warren Street Elementary School in Johnstown.
The APPR reviews are conducted two or three times a school year. Teachers are evaluated on a percentage-point system, looking at areas such as observation, growth, problem areas and deficiencies under requirements of state Education Law and regulations of the Board of Regents.
The new system is designed to help improve student performance and enhance accountability. Evaluation plans are negotiated at the local level consistent with state requirements and standards. The Johnstown district adopted its APPR plan on Sept. 1, 2011.
DeLilli said testing and standardization of education is sometimes "not the best path," but the APPR will improve performance if everyone in the district works together.
"I don't think [teachers] are feeling a negative impact of what we're trying to do," Knox Junior High School Principal Michael Satterlee said.
Satterlee said only three total days of instruction were affected by the evaluations so far this school year.
Johnstown High School Principal Michael Beatty said some of the new instruction involves "pre-testing" of students in reading and math skills before other testing is done later. He said DeLilli and district Director of Curriculum, Testing and Personnel Patricia Kilburn have worked with his school.
"We're teaching kids a cultural change," Beatty said. "We've been working with it at the high school for over a year now under the leadership of Trish and Rob. I think we're on the right track."
New Glebe Street Elementary School Principal Abbey North said the testing and time constraints present a challenge, but the evaluations are getting done.
"Overall, we've got a positive atmosphere going on," she said. "Teachers are starting to dissect the data."
Pleasant Avenue Elementary School Principal Jeffrey Vivenzio said he is "encouraged" by teachers wanting to talk to him personally about testing.
"I am constantly amazed at how wonderful and amazing every one of our teachers are," he said.
If anything, teachers might be overprepared, said Warren Street Elementary School Principal Scott Ziomek.
He said there is some "grumbling," as schools are being "asked a lot," but newer forms of instruction can only help the district.
"Kindergartners on computers this first month of school - that's outstanding," Ziomek said.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.