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February 9, 2014

Superintendent talks about student stress

PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh City School District staff has been working for years to stay on top of curriculum and testing changes, their leader says.

At a recent City School Board meeting, Superintendent James “Jake” Short laid out a timeline of district efforts, beginning in 2010, to reach out and collaborate with other educational institutions as Race to the Top and Common Core standards were initiated.

The goals included developing and refining a comprehensive teacher and administrator evaluation system and ensuring the district remains up to date with the latest teaching standards and curriculum materials.

A number of those collaborations and improvement efforts, Short noted, were made before similar standards were required by Race to the Top.

He praised the amount of time taken by Plattsburgh teachers and administrators to attend courses and lectures designed to teach them about the latest educational standards and techniques.

“The board and the community should be extremely proud of the uncalculated hours now that our teachers and principals have decided to do before Race to the Top required them to meet some of the highest levels of standards,” Short said.

He also listed a number of “extreme” concerns he and the School Board had regarding the new standards.

From an academic standpoint, Short criticized the excessive amounts of exam pilot testing, confusing internal evaluation guidelines and the delay by publishers in offering up-to-date Common Core teaching materials.

He also voiced his concerns about the large amount of confidential student data being collected by the company InBloom as part of the educational reforms.

Finally, Short noted the growing levels of stress related to the program among students, teachers and parents and how that pressure is leading to a tense learning environment.

“In some ways, some stress is healthy, but controlled stress. In this way, it’s not,” he said.

Short’s complete timeline statements are available on the Plattsburgh City School District webpage at www.plattscsd.org/BOE.htm.

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