The New Jersey State Board of Education approved changes to the teacher and principal evaluation system at their first meeting of the New Year. The Board also honored School Board Members as part of School Board Recognition Month, received a presentation from Patterson School District and got an update from the Department of Education on ESSA implementation. In unexpected news, Board Member Peter Simon also resigned.
Board Member Resignation
State Board President Mark Biedron announced the resignation of Board Member J. Peter Simon. Simon has served on the state Board of Education since 2011. According to Biedron, Simon stepped down due to a change in his work load. Simon co-chairs the firm William E. Simon and Sons as well as the William E. Simon Foundation — named after his father, a former U.S. treasury secretary — and has served on a number of educational or philanthropic boards and committees, according to his biography on the foundation’s website.
In possibly the biggest news for school leaders across the State, the Board approved changes to current evaluation rules housed in N.J.A.C. 6A:9C, Professional Development and N.J.A.C.6A:10, Educator Effectiveness. The following outline the specifics of the proposal across five (5) areas:
The Department made limited changes to the original proposal at their July meeting. Included within these were some modest changes related to requiring mutual agreement between highly effective teachers and supervisors to participate in alternative evaluative process and some safeguard language as it relates to educators on corrective action plans. In addition, the proposal continues the existence of the DEAC committee for another year. NJPSA had a chance to weigh in before State Board members back in June expressing agreement with much of the proposal (NJPSA Testimony).
The final passage of the regulations make it effective as of this school year.
The Board also received an update from Department personnel on implementation efforts of new requirements wrought by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which was enacted late last year. Based upon the presentation the Department has completed their engagement with stakeholders in general terms and is in ‘pause mode.’ They will now move toward specific proposals. Currently the Department has 16 different working groups engaged, with expected input to be sought from a number of advisory groups.
In addition, the Department provided the Board with some analysis of the recently related draft federal regulation related to assessment which appear to be consistent draft regulations released over the summer.
Further, the Board had a Second Discussion on proposed changes to charter regulations. The proposed rules, as amended, would, among other things, establish a five year pilot to allow ‘high performing’ charters to relax certification rules for teachers, school leaders, and business administrators. The Department also spent time providing the Board with background information on how schools are evaluated.
Changes at second discussion were significant, including:
- A better definition of what constitutes a ‘high performing charter’ for purposes of participation in the pilot (including eligibility & application criteria/process). Under the proposal, schools in ‘Tier 1’ would qualify to participate. This same ranking would allow for a school to go through an expedited review process in instances where they remain in status for several consecutive years. According to Department testimony, 31 charter schools would be able to participate in the pilot;
- The development of eligibility criteria for individuals seeking charter school certification as a teacher, principal or BA;
- Clarification on reciprocity between charter schools and host districts where a charter school student seeks to participate in sports programs;
Public testimony on the controversial proposal took several hours with proponents of the regulatory changes saying the added flexibility would allow schools to recruit from a larger pool of talent.
Opponents, including NJPSA, raised serious concern about the proposal – particularly as it relates to charter certification relaxation.
- Charter Schools Power Point: Second Discussion Changes
- Charter School Regulations Power Point: Initial Proposal
- NJPSA Testimony: November 4, 2016 Testimony & January 4, 2017 Testimony
Further, the Board had a first discussion of changes to current requirements as it relates to the written proficiency test (WPT) in the target language and in the English language for the endorsement for Teacher of Bilingual and Bicultural Education in accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A:9B-5.14 and N.J.A.C. 6A:9B-11.5(a)2i1. The resolution would reduce down the current qualifying score from ‘Advanced Low’ to ‘Intermediate High’ as a qualifying score for passing. The change will increase the population of applicants by 10 to 15 percent.
In addition, the Board had a Second Discussion on changes to Fiscal Accountability regulations as it relates to Approved Private Schools for Students With Disabilities (APSSDs). Currently 159 APSSDs operate in New Jersey (113 non-profit (about 71%) /46 for-profit (about 29%)) serving approximately 9,900 students.
Among the changes proposed is an amendment to N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-18.19 to require an Annual Disclosure Statement that would seek to disclose:
- Related parties with whom APSSDs do business
Under the regulation, if APSSDs do not disclose certain relationships, the transactions are deemed non-allowable and cannot be included in the tuition rate. Proposed changes at N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-18.20 requires APSSDs to develop and implement a nepotism policy.
The following tables outline the changes proposed by the Department:
The Board also received a presentation from State appointed Superintendent Donnie Evans on successes in Paterson.
The Board also honored New Jersey School Board members for their service to the students and families of New Jersey in light of School Board Recognition month.
Moreover, the Board made several appointments including: David Greer, Jon Worthington and Loralia Bolder.
Finally, the Board approved 3 interim reviews under NJQSAC. Appendix A lists all of the districts and their DPR scores. One district scored 80 percent or above in all five DPR areas and were approved for a period of three years. Two districts scored below 80% in one or more DPR areas and were required to develop and implement a QSAC improvement plan to address deficient indicators.