The Farmingdale Board of Education spoke on the issues and details surrounding the Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR) during a public meeting at Howitt Wednesday night.
The assessments, which are taken two times per school year and were mandated to measure the growth of student learning, was a concern for parents and board members alike.
Parents expressed confusion over why students, as young as those in kindergarten, are forced to complete assessments in subjects including P.E., art and music as well as core classes as a way to create a performance score for teachers.
"Unfortunately that is the legislation. We have to follow it. There is no way around it. We have to create a score. In order for us to create a score…We have to provide some sort of a assessment," said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Joan Ripley, who called the creation of the tests a challenge.
"Even though it doesn't make sense, we're trying to make sense out of it the best we can," she said.
Board members said their main concern was taking away from crucial classroom time in order to administer and score the tests, therefore creating assessments that are limited to 20 multiple choice questions per subject.
"We really try to put as few assessments in place as we possibly could for the students and still have a score that we could derive at the end for the teachers. Is it ideal? Absolutely not. But that's what the legislation requires us to do," said Ripley.
"We tried our best to create a situation where its definitely what the students are going to learn over the course of the year but would we have ever create a test like that? No. We never have, but we don't know any other way to fulfill this mandate," she said.
Ripley said the board will continue to observe other school districts to see if the testing process can be done more efficiently in the future.
"We're going to do the best we can to set targets based on the information we gather from the students and help the students that need [it] along the way and ensure that there is growth from our students," she said.
Parents spoke out on their disapproval of the assessments, one parent saying, "It just seems like first of all, you're never going to assess what the kids are learning in 20 questions."
Other Board News:
Superintendent John Lorentz said that after several months the issue of partying teens near Farmingdale High School is still on the board's radar. Lorentz announced a meeting with State Troopers and the second precinct for Oct. 18 to discuss the matter further.
Lorentz stated that after reviewing recent comments from concerned residents, that most complaints take place off school property but that extra security lighting would be installed around the high school by the end of October.
"Most of them are not school district issues but more of community issues…Much of the activities does not happen on school grounds or during school hours," he said.