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State Education Department commissioner to visit St. Lawrence Central on Friday

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BRASHER FALLS - Commissioner of Education Dr. John B. King Jr. will be visiting the St. Lawrence Central School District on Friday to discuss the district’s “data-driven instruction” initiatives.

Dr. King, who was appointed to his current post in May 2011 will also have lunch with the students, and Superintendent Stephen M. Putman said they plan to share other district initiatives with him during the visit.

Mr. Putman said he was contacted about the visit by Stephen J. Todd, assistant superintendent for instruction at St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

“He’s going to be coming from Clinton-Essex and Franklin-Essex BOCES, He has Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz with him. Ken is going to Seaway Tech,” he said.

One of the areas they’ll be discussing is data-driven instruction to improve student achievement.

District teachers took part in a week of training in August to prepare for assessment that would gauge how well their students were learning the material and what they could do for those who weren’t on track.

The week focused on several assessments that were implemented this year to tell them how well students were performing over the course of a year.

One way of measuring student performance is through pre-tests and post-tests. A pre-test is given in the fall when students return to school, and they receive a post-test at the end of the course to measure how well the student has grown.

Pre-test scores are also measured against state scores to compare how much a student has improved and how well they met the course standard.

The district also introduced interim assessments that are given every eight weeks to evaluate student comprehension of the material.

“All the school districts are going to be asked as part of Race to the Top to do what’s called data-driven instruction. We worked with our teachers this summer on that. We have teachers administer interim assessments through the year to see if they measure progress and gaps in students learning,” Mr. Putman said.

Then they’ll work with students to make up those gaps, he said.

“The schedule is laid out so kids don’t have tons of tests the same day,” Mr. Putman said, noting students took the assessments over a week period.

“We try to do it so it makes sense for the kids and we get good data to see how kids are progressing toward the standards,” the superintendent said.

Mr. Putman said he also wants to share other initiatives, such as the special education services they offer in the district.

“We educate almost all of our special education students in-house,” he said.

Mr. Putman said there likely will be little talk about school funding.

“He is very much aware of the funding inequities. He’s on board with the same message that I preach,” he said.

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