Abraham: No new tests needed

M ore testing — for teachers, that is. It’s one of a few initiatives Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently mentioned in his State of the State address.

Thomas Abraham, Hartford Superintendent, expressed his hesitancy toward Cuomo’s suggestions during a school board meeting Monday night.

One of Cuomo’s ideas would require teachers to pass a bar-type exam in order to receive their certification.

“Apparently he’s not aware of the testing that already goes on,” Abraham said, adding that if such a plan passed, the state would probably add such requirements to an already mounting pile. Abraham also pointed out that exam results, for students and teachers alike, don’t tell the whole story.

“Someone who does well on a test doesn’t necessarily do well in the classroom, and sometimes the state doesn’t understand that,” Abraham said.

Additionally, he said Cuomo is opposed to all teachers being paid the same amount. The governor suggested a four-year annual stipend of $15,000 to reward teachers who excel.

Abraham found several faults with this proposal. He first questioned where this extra funding would come from, as many schools across the state are already in dire straits. Secondly, he wondered what would happen after four years, “would they not excel anymore?”

“I have no problem with merit pay, but there’s resistance to it, because people worry that it would become a subjective process,” Abraham said.

During the meeting, Andrew Cook, middle and high school principal, said the faculty will be sending their ungraded Regents exams to Fort Edward for correction and will be grading other schools’ tests in turn. Cook has organized this process with a number of area schools in order to prepare for upcoming mandates which will ban teachers from correcting their own student’s tests.

Janine Thomas, a board of education member, questioned the benefits of this regulation, as it would remove an opportunity for teachers to see areas in which their own students need to improve.

Abraham is neither surprised nor enthusiastic about this mandate.

“The rest of the state is being punished for what big cities are doing, which is cheating,” he said.

Abraham also informed the board about the newest safety measures at the school. Magnetic locks have been installed, and administration is also looking at electronic swipe cards for all of the staff. This would provide further security as everyone’s coming and going would be monitored.

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