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Hudson grapples with teacher and student standards


HUDSON–The Hudson City School District Board of Education this week discussed how parents can learn teachers’ effectiveness ratings, imposed a freeze on “non-essential” spending, expressed ideas about educational standards, and heard of developments related to school bullying and harmony.

All seven board members attended Monday, November 4 meeting.

At the end of each academic year every teacher gets a score determined by the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR). It’s a numerical grade representing the teacher’s “effectiveness rating,” according to the Capital Region BOCES website. The 100-point scale is made up of observations of the teacher (60 points), the performance on of the teacher’s students on state assessments (20 points), and students’ performance on local assessments (20 points).

By state law, the only people other than certain officials who may see a teacher’s score are the legal parents and guardians of a student in the teacher’s class. In the Hudson District, parents who wish to view the score of their child’s teacher must come to a school office in person and show ID. Coordinator of School Improvement April Prestipino said this requirement is the best way to assure that the person getting the information is a parent or guardian. But board members want parents to have alternate ways of learning teachers’ scores.

“Will parents have to take the day off from work to come and get it?” asked board member Jeri Chapman.

Also at the meeting the board adopted a motion, introduced by board Vice President Tiffany Martin-Hamilton, to freeze “non-essential” spending. Before the vote, Ms. Chapman asked, “What is non-essential spending?”

Robert Yusko, Jr., the district business executive, answered, “It’s up to me, as purchasing agent, to decide.” He gave an example of a request for pencils, saying that the person ordering them would be asked if new pencils were really necessary.

Board members said that many budgeted expenses were mandated. A public meeting devoted to the school budget will take place Wednesday, December 11, at 6 p.m., at the John L. Edwards Primary School cafeteria.

When the subjects of Destination Graduation, Race to the Top and student performance goals came up, some board members voiced ideas for educational standards. Board President Kelly Frank noted that sometimes schools prepare students to meet certain state educational standards and then the state changes the standards. “I wish we could step out of New York State and say, ‘We do this for our students.’” She suggested preparing students to exceed current state minimum requirements, because the state may raise the standards again.

Ms. Chapman also suggested an ambitious approach to goals and teaching, saying, “More needs to be asked of [students], because the only way to get you to do something is for someone to demand it of you…. If somebody says something is too hard, I think ‘good.’”

On the other hand, she cautioned, “I think one problem with Regents exams is that some students can’t read well enough.” She recommended literacy assessments in high school.

In the public comment session, a mother claimed that the school had improperly disciplined her son, mislabeling his actions as aggressive when he was trying to break up a fight. She feared that anti-bullying laws will be used against her son.

Advised to bring up this problem in a different setting, the mother responded that she had tried going through other channels but officials suggested that she take the issue to the board.

From the audience, Mary Udell suggested that the student’s mother contact Parents in Partnership program.

Meanwhile, Student Representative William Glasser announced that the upcoming Power of Peace Seminar, sponsored by Youth Voices Center Inc., will run sessions geared to developing such qualities as teamwork and conflict resolution. He said that 150 students are expected to participate.

Also at the meeting:

Videography teacher Dan Udell lamented how few people attended the meetings. He suggested that all executive sessions, where the board meets in private to discuss confidential matters, occur at the end of board meetings. Currently, some executive sessions occur early in board meetings, with some lasting more than an hour.

Ms. Frank said that some executive sessions require the presence of certain individuals whom the Board does not want to keep late. Recently before going into executive session, the board estimates for the public on how long the session will last.

William reported that more clubs and events are raising money for Erica Wordon, a former Hudson HS student undergoing treatment for brain cancer. A junior vs. senior football game raised $800.

The next Board of Education meeting will be Monday, November 25, at 7 p.m., at the Hudson High School library.



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