Written by Rick Karas Friday, 26 October 2012 00:00
Farmingdale residents had a couple of questions for the Farmingdale Board of Education at this month’s regular meeting at Howitt Middle School on Oct. 10, concerning student assessment and how the district evaluates reading skills.
Also on the agenda, the board adopted the 2012-13 tax levy of $118,703,113, of which $114,539,602 is a school tax levy, with the rest going towards the library and youth council levies.
Assistant Superintendent Paul Defendini says residents’ tax bills will vary, depending on their property class, such as residential or commercial. Residential owners will get a slight break, as their levy increase will be 1.96 percent, slightly under the average levy increase of two percent. Also factoring into tax bill amounts is Nassau County’s decision to settle tax grievances, where one resident settling could mean an increase in the tax bill of another.
The district’s Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) was discussed, with Superintendent John Lorentz saying the district’s evaluation plan has been approved by the state. All teachers will now be accountable, with the state measuring growth in students’ performance. This means even music, art, and physical education instructors will be part of the assessments.
One parent was concerned that much of the focus is on math and English, and not enough on social studies and science. The board said new standards for the latter subjects will be posted, emphasizing a narrow but deeper focus on subject matter. Fourth-graders are the only ones to receive a science assessment at this time. The district stresses they want to administer assessments without interrupting the education process.
Another parent wondered why the district requires students to log their reading, for example, a sixth-grader being required to read 100 pages at both home and school per week. The parent believes this process prevents students from becoming thoughtful readers, or as she put it, she wants a child “who thinks, not an accountant.”
The board says the logging is so teachers can monitor students, important especially in larger classes. The district is looking for students to be persistent in their reading, especially with longer passages like the ones they’ll see in assessments. The board stresses that the teacher makes the call in terms of what reading level a child is on, and quality, along with quantity, is important.
The issue of charter schools came up, as Trustee Tina Diamond recently attended a state school board resolution dinner. The School Board Association wants charter schools to fall in line with state rules and regulations, especially since they get public education funds from their respective districts. The general board said they have no interest in dealing with the charter schools.
Closer to home, there is a movement by the district’s safety committee to have one universal plan for emergencies at all schools, and Dottie Fisher was officially approved as acting assistant principal at Saltzman East. The next regular meeting of the Board of Ed will be Wednesday, Nov. 7 at Howitt Middle School at 8 p.m.