Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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September 2, 2012

Back to school

New school year brings all kinds of changes

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — It was only August, but kids started filling the hall at Starpoint Middle School early Thursday.

The groups were incoming sixth-graders, going through an orientation introducing them to their new school. The orientation was led by Starpoint’s WEB Crew, a group of eighth-graders who will help guide the newbies throughout their first year out of the elementary world.

WEB stands for Where Everyone Belongs, a title fitting because the group’s aim is to help the sixth-graders feel at home in the middle school. The assistance of eighth-graders helps because change can be difficult, said eighth-grader Cara Sharkey said.

“It gives them a fun first impression,” she said. “And they’ll know what’s coming.”

If it’s true that the more things change the more they stay the same, then there is nothing new in store for the 2012-13 school year.

For the 13,000 or so students in pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade in Eastern Niagara County, the school year begins this week. Kids in Barker and Starpoint start the year on Tuesday. Lockport, Newfane, Royalton-Hartland, Wilson and DeSales kids start on Thursday.

Three of the biggest changes this year are courtesy of the federal and New York state governments. This will be the first school year every teacher and principal is subject to New York’s Annual Professional and Performance Review program.

Under the APPR, a state mandate that took effect this year, teachers and principals will be evaluated according to negotiated rubrics. During the past year, districts across the state have been required to meet the APPR requirements, which involve negotiating with unions and coming up with a grading rubric and evaluation procedures. Over the summer, teachers from all over met to formulate student learning objectives, or SLOs, which will be used to measure student progress in courses.

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