August 31, 2010

Plattsburgh buoyed by Race to the Top

Source: NYSUT Communications
sherman and short

Rod Sherman and James Short

For the Plattsburgh School District in the northern part of the state, New York's award of Race to the Top funding is sweet inspiration to carry out work they have already begun.

"A lot more people are now watching us. It helps support and validate us," said James Short, Plattsburgh superintendent, who traveled to Albany to meet U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at his Back to School news conference at NYSUT on Monday. "It's reinforced what we started working on years ago."

The district has been working on multiple measures for teacher evaluation.

The president of the Plattsburgh Teachers Association, Rod Sherman, who has carried the title of "teacher" for 43 years, joined Short. Sherman has been active in creating new evaluations and serves on NYSUT's Innovation Initiative.

Race to the Top's nod to New York proves that "It's not just the union talking or the superintendent talking," Short said.

Sherman said his district expects to be piloting multiple measure evaluations with experienced teachers within the first few weeks of school this year.

"We're doing a presentation for each building on where we are with the program," Sherman said.

It is hoped that Race to the Top funds can be used to support these programs.

"Money is tight row now. Our teacher center just closed," said Sherman. Teacher center funding was eliminated in the state budget; the centers are resources for professional development and grants.

Using multiple measures for evaluations will help find strengths and weaknesses in teachers, Sherman said, and direct professional development needs.

Short said teachers are shown a wheel of 15 different ideas for evaluating their work.

"It's not all about standardized tests," he said.