The Old Rochester Regional District Joint School Committee Meeting started and ended with reports from Superintendent Doug White, the most significant of which was the recent ratification of the contract with the teachers’ union. ORR Professional Educators Association members unanimously approved the agreement to a four-year contract on March 20. No specifics were detailed in press releases from Dr. Colin Everett, president of the association, but he is quoted as saying there was preservation of benefits for “employees who might come on board in the future.” Health care concessions were one of the central issues that needed resolution before the union members would agree to the contract.
White then went into details regarding his yearlong evaluation and implementation of new assessment guidelines and tools for administrators and teachers.
With the focus on using a variety of measurement tools White said he was “impressed” with his in-class observations and was confident that over the next two years real progress would be made in achieving the goals needed for both the students and the teachers.
Employing the type of management tools common in today’s corporate setting, White discussed District Determined Measures and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers testing.
DDM is a statewide evaluation system in which educators receive two separate ratings: Summative Performance Rating and Student Impact Rating. The combination of these two provides the professional education staff with informed evidence of the teacher’s effectiveness and the students’ response to the academic program. From these measurement models, schools and school districts will have the information necessary to build education plans that better serve the student population, while providing the educators with feedback for their continuous improvement. DDM models are geared to a two-year process to ensure measurements are calibrated and information is accurate for improvements and decisions.
White also shared that PARCC, the next generation in standardized testing for grades 3-12, will be impacted by the DDM program and implementation. Between these two measurement models, “real progress” for the ORR Joint School District can be achieved, White assured the group.
Some members of the joint committee from the Tri-Town area expressed appreciation for the work Dr. White has undertaken, along with the district-wide impact these changes will bring to the communities. Although change across three different school systems will take time to fully implement, the consensus of the members in attendance was positive.
In a separate matter, the Project Grow Program, which provides for the education needs of children with special needs, was discussed from a fiscal impact viewpoint. There had been ongoing discussion that possibly a financial burden was being placed on some towns more than others within the ORR joint school district. The group heard that research from surrounding towns with joint school districts proved most were providing Project Grow Programs in the same manner as the ORR program and therefore, ORR was in synergy with towns in the region. The night’s quorum passed an agreement that the current allowances for providing education to this specific group would stay in place and that policy would be written to memorialize the current plan.
By Marilou Newell