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School administrators discuss opt-outs, teacher evaluations

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

State Senator Marc Panepinto and administrators from about a half-dozen local school districts gathered in Hamburg to discuss Common Core, standardized testing and how their tied to teacher evaluations, and how to fix what they collectively believe is a flawed system.

In addition to Hamburg, officials from the Tonawanda City, Frontier, Lake Shore and Grand Island school districts were at the table. While most of the roundtable meeting was private, officials met with media and during the briefing revealed that four of the districts had significant numbers of students who opted out of standardized testing.

Panepinto, when speaking of how testing has been linked to teacher performance evaluations, said the tests were never meant to be used for that purpose.

It's one of the reasons parents chose to opt their children out of testing, a move that has created a threat of withheld state funding to school districts. The State Senator says it's not fair to punish the district for the decisions of the parents.

"I think we all agree we need dollars in the classroom because that's where they belong, not in an administrative capacity, trying to figure out a mechanism to evaluate teachers that wasn't meant to do that," said Panepinto.

Administrators participating spoke of an interest in bringing new New York State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia, a Western New York native, to the table at a future meeting.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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