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Surveys frustrate teachers 

Students, teachers, principals, and parents in the Rochester school district recently participated in comprehensive districtwide surveys. The questions were tailored to each group's relationship to the district. For example, students were asked about their teachers' instruction, responsiveness, and classroom demeanor. | The New York State Education Department required the surveys as part of the teacher evaluation legislation enacted last year for priority school districts — those where the majority of schools are failing. | Teachers found the surveys frustrating, says Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers Association. | "They ate up so much valuable time," he says. And some teachers found some of the questions intrusive, he says, and not always age-appropriate. | But Anita Murphy, deputy superintendent of the RCSD, says the surveys were designed to gauge perceptions of students and parents for planning purposes. And the cumulative results will be used to help identify problems and guide in the development of solutions, Murphy says. | "We worked very specifically to not make it punitive," she says. "We want to use the data to make the schools better." | Rather than providing feedback that is specific to individual students, teachers, and principals, Murphy says, the feedback will be more generalized, like "Here's what people said about this school."

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