Changes to Eval Regs Proposed, Charter School Code Moves Toward Adoption At April State Board Meeting

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In addition to proposed changes to evaluation which the Department of Education indicates is “minorl yet response to the field,” the State Board of Education also adopted changes to current professional licensure and certification associated with mentorship, moved charter school regulations closer to final adoption, and approved the Religious Holiday Calendar for the 2014-15 school year at their April meeting.  Additionally approved were ministerial changes to the bylaws of the State Board, required by the recent passing of one of the Board members, Ilan Plawker

Educator Effectiveness

The Board had a discussion on new regulations developed by the Department of Education in response to “lessons learned” in implementation of the new evaluation system.  In order to ensure passage of the regulations by the beginning of the coming school year, the regulations will bypass the second discussion stage of review by the Board.  Dubbed as “technical amendments” by the Chief Performance Officer Peter Shulman, the changes do not include “major changes” in order to allow districts to continue working toward full implementation by the next school year.   Among the changes proposed are:

  • Moving the date by which student growth objectives (SGO) need to be completed from October 15 to October 31 to allow school district personnel more time;
  • Allowing the filing of the SGOs once calculated versus once set;
  • Elimination of the December 1 deadline for completion of co-observation;
  • Allowing for the electronic filing of observation reports;
  • The creation of an internal appeals process for teachers to the superintendent and ultimately the board for procedural errors in evaluation; and
  • Moving regulations related to the evaluation of staff, other than teachers, principals, assistant principals and vice principals to a separate, distinct section of the code.           

Mr. Shulman indicated that the process to date has been meeting Department expectations and that by and large administrators are meeting the expectations set forth in code around evaluation requirements.  He also indicated that several educators have indicated that the evaluation have facilitated some of the best conversations around practice between teachers and school leaders.

He also stated that districts have been able to address capacity – either through shared service arrangements, use of technology, time management assistance, or sometimes through the waiver process (according to the Chief Performance Officer around 25 waivers have been granted to date – mostly around allowing district to complete two long observations in comparison to two short and 1 long observation).   Mr. Shulman also indicated that during the pilot districts were able to allay capacity concerns in the second year of implementation.

Also discussed was the Department’s commitment to training and resources for districts around SGO development, understanding and interpreting student growth percentile (SGP) data and other support needs.

While the Board failed to announce which topics will be heard at the May Board meeting, the Evaluation proposal is likely to make the top of the list.  NJPSA is reviewing the code and is expected to make comment at the upcoming meeting.

Religious Holidays Calendar Resolution

The Board also approved the Religious Holidays calendar for the 2014-15 school year.   Current law, N.J.S.A. 18A:36-14 through 16 and N.J.A.C. 6A:32-8.3(j) tasks the Commissioner of Education, in concert with the State Board of Education, with developing the list of approved holidays from which a student must receive an excused absence from school.  Boards of education, at their discretion, may add other days to the list for the schools of their districts.

Charter Schools

In addition, the Board had a second discussion on re-adoption without amendment of N.J.A.C. 6A:11, Charter Schools.  The chapter is scheduled to expire May 10, 2014.  The code provision was last modified in January and August of 2013.  NJPSA weighed in the last round of changes in 2013 that sought to create a streamlined application process, allowed for the establishment of satellite campuses, created new tenure acquisition and revocation rules for charter teaching staff members, and allowed for broad Commissioner discretion in waiver of regulation (NJPSA testimony / NJPSA testimony on streamline tenure). 

The State Board at last month’s, as well as this month’s meeting, had robust discussion around the lack of collaboration between traditional public and charter schools, going so far as to ask whether the Board should adopt a resolution supporting such a goal.  In response, the Department reiterated that they are working through a variety of informal channels to encourage communication among charter schools and school districts and to focus conversations on best practices and student learning.

In addition, in response to testimony that highlighted the potential segregative effect of charter schools in certain districts, the Department proposed an amendment to N.J.A.C. 6A:11-2.2(c)2 and N.J.A.C. 6A:11-4.4(a), which requires annual assessment by the Commissioner of the potential segregative effect charter schools may have on their districts of residence.  To facilitate this analysis, the regulations will now require charter schools to submit student data to the Commissioner on June 1 instead of January 15 to ensure a more accurate projection of what charter enrollment is.

NJPSA will be providing comment to the Department in coming days in light of the newly initiated Department changes as well as past adopted modifications. 

Professional Licensure and Standards (mentoring)

The Board additionally approved changes to current Professional Licensure code in light of the new requirements necessitated by enactment of the TEACHNJ Act last year. The proposal includes changes to: professional standards standard certification obtainment; and mentorship.

Professional Standards

The proposal aligns New Jersey's professional standards to 2011 InTASC "Model Core Teaching Standards." The proposal also seeks to align standards with all parts of the State's effectiveness system – evaluation practice instruments and pre-service accreditation standards.

Current Standards (2003)

Proposed Standards

Adapted from INTASC (Interstate New Teacher Assessment & Support Consortium) national standards to reflect NJ priorities and statutory requirements

Adapted from 2011 InTASC (Interstate Teacher Assessment & Support Consortium) Model Core Standards to reflect NJ priorities and statutory requirements

Focus is on professional practice of new teachers

Focus on professional practice across the continuum of teacher development

Reflect knowledge performances and dispositions teachers need to support student learning

Reflect knowledge performances and dispositions teachers need to be effective in supporting all students to be college- and career-ready and to implement the Common Core State Standards

Incorporate an evidence-base on effective practice

Incorporate updated and most current evidence-base on effective practice

Not explicitly aligned with approved evaluation teacher practice instruments

Align with approved evaluation teacher practice instruments; pre-service accreditation standards

Source: NJDOE

Standard Certification Obtainment

The regulations also align the provisional certification evaluation process to align with new TEACHNJ evaluation observation protocols.


Current Requirements

Proposed Amendments

Evaluation of Provisional Teachers

• The first observation must be completed after 10 weeks

• The second observation must be completed after 20 weeks

• The third observation must be completed after 30 weeks

• Each teacher shall be observed at least three times during a school year but not less than once during each semester


The biggest change however is in the area of mentorship in light of the TEACHNJ requirement that all new educators to a district have a mentor. This differs from previous practice as it covers all new district teachers regardless of how long they have been in the classroom. Specifically the changes:

  • Establish baseline supports for all non-tenured teachers (not just novice educators)
  • Maintain accountability but reduce district reporting burden
  • Build in flexibility for district design and implementation
  • Update the vocabulary and organization of current regulations

Under the approved regulations he Chief School Administrator (CSA) is responsible for creating the mentoring program plan and determining implementation logistics. Boards of education are tasked with reviewing plans for fiscal impact however. Unlike previous accountability requirements however the CSA is merely responsible for submitting a Statement of Assurance to the Department that a plan has been developed that meets the criteria outlined by the proposed regulation. This criteria includes coverage of the following topics within mentor training as well as several other requirements:

  • District evaluation rubric
  • Classroom observation skills
  • Facilitating adult learning
  • Leading reflective conversations about practice
  • NJ professional teaching standards
  • Common Core State Standards

In addition plans must be designed with the School improvement Panel who oversees implementation.

Beyond the plan however the draft regulations also include new requirements to serve as a mentor. These are outlined in the table below:







Demonstrated command of content and pedagogy

Command of content and pedagogy demonstrated by rating of effective or highly effective on most recent evaluation (for SY 14-15)

Mentor/ Mentee Professional Relationship

Not addressed

Mentor may not serve as mentee's direct supervisor or conduct teacher evaluations

Teaching Experience

At least 3 years experience actively teaching

3 years teaching experience with at least 2 years completed within previous 5 years

Mentor Training

Mentor agrees to complete mentor training program

Mentor required to complete mentor training program


Mentor agrees to maintain confidentiality

Mentor guidance and support defined as confidential

Letters of Rec.



The regulations are responsive to level of experience a new educator has had. Novice teachers will still be involved in an extensive process while more veteran educators will participate in a more stratified program.  They also affirmatively addresses mentor payment and recordkeeping requiring mentors to keep logs of contact time and making the district responsible for payment. The Department PowerPoint provides additional information on the proposed changes.

Education for the Homeless Children and Students in State Facilities

Further, the Board had a first discussion on amendments to regulations pertaining to educational services for students who are homeless or in State facilities pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:7B; N.J.S.A. 18A:38-1.d and 19.  The changes, Department initiated, were generally precipitated by federal and state statutory changes.  According to NJDOE statistics in 2012/13 approximately 8,660 students were homeless in New Jersey with another 1,457 assigned to some form of state facility.  These students encompass 250 districts from around the State.

Resolution to Recognize April 2014 as School Library Month

The Board also recognized April as School Library Month, recognizing the hard work of school librarians from around the State.

State Board of Education Bylaws

Finally, the Board re-adopted their bylaws with the addition of several ministerial changes, largely in light of the elimination of their role in approval of legal disputes as well as technical changes in the election of a new president or vice president which came to light after the death of Vice President Ilan Plawker last year.