GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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August 27, 2013

No new roles, but new people in Rockport schools

Back to school for Cape Ann towns

ROCKPORT — Students, parents, staff and faculty are in for a bumpy ride as Jerden’s Lane is in the process of being paved, but the road toward a top-notch education is as smooth as ever for students returning to school tomorrow.

Philip Conrad, principal of Rockport High and Middle schools, said generally, things this year will be looking similar to last year.

“Our enrollment is stable, school choice is up a little,” he said.

Conrad said a new guidance counselor and school psychologist have been added to the staff, as well as some long term substitutes since some faculty members are on maternity leave.

These are not new positions, just new people. The guidance counselor role was filled after Howard J. Kasper, the previous counselor, was placed on paid administrative leave after it was alleged he had engaged in sexual misconduct at a private school in Beverly decades earlier.

As the new staff members settle in, the school will be integrating new methods of evaluations for teachers.

Passed by the state Education Board in 2011, teachers began to be evaluated on student performance; schools across the state have been gradually shifting toward the new system.

Like the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), students take tests to help evaluate their teachers; these exams are geared toward teachers or grades that are not tested by MCAS. Other factors include student performance in the classroom and feedback from students and parents.

In addition to the teacher evaluation process, Rockport schools are due for a visit from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) come October, Conrad said.

Once every 10 years, association officials visit schools to make sure they meet accreditation standards. The association serve more than 2,000 public and private schools throughout New England.

Conrad said the school is ready for the town’s schoolchildren; faculty and staff members were busy putting the final touches in place Monday.

“We’re all geared up,” he said.

The middle and high school bells will be ringing at 7:40 a.m., while elementary school students start their day at 9 a.m.

“We can’t wait,” Conrad said.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report by James Niedzinski, who can be reached at 978-283-7000 x 455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.

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