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PENNS MANOR: Principal briefs board on evaluations

by on March 16, 2013 10:40 AM

KENWOOD — Directors in the Penns Manor Area School District heard from the high school principal Thursday about items he recently covered in a meeting with faculty regarding the new Keystone Exams and changes to teacher evaluations.

Principal Daren Johnston informed the board about the development of a new design on the state Department of Education’s Standards Aligned System website regarding the exams. The portion of the site provides sample questions from each of the three Keystone exams — algebra, biology and literature — from each of four difficulty levels, to give teachers an idea of how difficult the questions on the Keystones can be and the in-depth thinking that students have to do on those exams.

The levels range from basic recall to extended thinking, and in Johnston’s handout, he showed board members samples of questions at each difficulty level while assuring them he was not doing a security breach of the exams or any questions, saying his examples can be found on the state Department of Education’s website.

Johnston also said the Department of Education has created an online session that all teachers have to view, then they have to “take a test to give the test” as part of “strict security measures” the department has implemented to reduce any chance of cheating on the exams.

Johnston also explained to the board the new teacher effectiveness evaluation, required by the Department of Education, that will take place starting next year. The evaluation is based on the Danielson Framework that teachers are familiar with, he said, and is made up of four domains: planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities.

Fifty percent of the evaluation will be observation-based — not only for teachers, Johnston said, but for himself as well. The other 50 percent of the evaluation is broken down into three sections, which “will be new to the teachers”: 15 percent for building-level data, which include PSSA achievement, graduation rate, promotion rate (for elementary school), attendance and AP course participation; 15 percent for teacher-specific data, which include PSSA achievement, Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System growth and district rubrics; and 20 percent for elective data, which include projects, portfolios and national tests.

“As an educator, taking a look at the shift at the Keystone tests, taking a look at the way that they will be evaluated — and this is the way a principal will be evaluated too — (it’s) completely different from what they’re used to, what I’m used to, but it’s going to be a big change,” Johnston said.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved a memorandum of agreement between the district and the Penns Manor Education Association concerning the Marion Center Area Penns Manor Cyber Academy. Penns Manor and Marion Center have had a joint agreement for about two years to “share the costs of the blended schools part of it,” Superintendent Thomas Kakabar said.
  • Approved the ARIN Intermediate Unit 28 general operating budget for fiscal year July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, for $687,582, with the district’s share being $21,682, an increase of $215.
  • Affirmed the submission of the proposed 2013-14 budget to the state Department of Education for approval to increase the millage rate of real estate taxes by more than the index for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
  • Granted the following their summer salary in a lump sum payment in June, if funds are available: Karen Adamson, Dan Antonacci, Mary Lou Emigh, Cindy Hutchins Long, Hazel Johnston, Carol Marcenzo, Mary Pfeiffer Nycum, Michael Reilly and Janice Yeager.
  • Approved the school calendar for 2013-14 with the first teacher day scheduled for Aug. 26, first student day Aug. 28, tentative last student day June 6, 2014, and last teacher day June 9, 2014.
  • Approved Zachary Doll as a day-to-day substitute for citizenship education 7-12 and social studies for 2012-13.
  • Approved a request from Jamie Cortazzo for an unpaid leave of absence starting March 5 with an anticipated return on May 28.
  • Hired Jennifer Horgan as a long-term substitute to fill Cortazzo’s temporary vacancy at $341.26 per day.
  • Hired Kelli Buterbaugh as a long-term substitute to fill the temporary vacancy in the position held by Amy Ligas, who is on an approved leave of absence without pay that started Friday until, tentatively, the first day of the second semester of the 2013-14 school year. Buterbaugh will be paid $85 per day for the first 20 consecutive days and $135 daily thereafter.
  • Approved a three-year contract renewal with Lifetouch Photography.
  • Announced that this year’s high school musical, “Little Women,” will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday, April 5, and Saturday, April 6, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 7, in the high school auditorium. Kakabar said three students involved in the musical talked about the production this week on WDAD’s “Indiana in the Morning.” Kakabar, elementary Principal Dave Grimaldi and five students took the trip to WDAD for the show. The other topics included two sophomore students’ senior project, Jump Rope for Heart, and the district’s new website. Kakabar said this will be a monthly trip, and Penns Manor’s show will air the second Wednesday of each month at 8:45 a.m.
  • Hired Ashley Delfonso as the girls’ junior high volleyball assistant coach No. 2 at a salary of $1,375.90; and Joseph Bunyak as the boys’ assistant varsity baseball coach effective immediately at a salary of $2,663.32.

Heather Carlson is the wire editor and an assistant web editor for The Indiana Gazette. She covers courts, Saltsburg and Homer City borough councils and Penns Manor and United school districts, in addition to writing feature articles. She can be reached at
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