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Harrison Superintendent Blasts New State Mandates

HARRISON, N.Y. – Harrison Superintendent Louis Wool blasted New York State for two new unfunded mandates involving student testing and teacher evaluations at the board of education meeting Wednesday night.

Wool said that both mandates from the state are “reckless” and “disrespectful” to the development of children. The New York State Assessment test, which students took last week, aims to get the most accurate data from school districts on the progress of its students, but Wool said it was “poorly constructed.”

Teachers were also given the state mandated “Annual Professor Performance Review” for the first time, which aims to see how effective teachers have been throughout the school year. Wool said that both mandates were done at “break-neck speed” and resulted in misinformation.

“The whole experience was demoralizing for our teachers, many of whom are doing a magnificent job,” Wool said. “The community is the ones who have to shoulder the burden brought on us by the state.”

Michael Greenfield, assistant superintendent for curriculum, said the exams given to students were not only longer this year but the most challenging that teachers have had to deal with due to their length. Greenfield said some teachers were awake into the early morning hours to get the tests submitted on time on the days they were given.

“Our students had to take the math and ELA exams on the same day so we pretty much had to close school for the day,” Greenfield said. “The state has shown recklessness with these mandates that I have never seen before in my career. A lot of the changes had to be implemented on the fly.”

Wool said he doesn’t see either the student tests or teacher evaluations as different since they were both “poorly constructed.”

“We are working hard to make our school district grow but the state mandates are poorly conceived and have set us back,” Wool said. “We need to look at models that are linked to our own assessments and growth. It’s a very difficult time. We are trying to live up to high standards but it’s hard when the state keeps casting judgments in the public domain.”

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