The New Jersey Department of Education released several changes to their Organization Chart at their October 1 meeting as the New Jersey Teacher of the Year was announced. The Board also approved the Evaluation code and received a presentation on absenteeism as well as the new graduation requirements. In addition, the technology and career/life skills standards were approved.
The October Board meeting included the announcement of several staffing changes in light of the departure of Assistant Commissioner of Administration and Finance David Corso, the Department’s current key financial person, as well as the Department’s bundling of intervention strategies for schools under monitoring or under State intervention. Specifically, former Director of Evaluation, Tim Matheney, was named as the Department’s new Chief Intervention Officer.
In addition, Kimberly Harrington, who had been serving as the Acting Chief Academic Officer was permanently named to the position. Other additions included the promotion of several key personnel.
- Bill Haldeman, currently serving as Chief of Staff, was named Assistant Commissioner of Executive Services;
- Bob Bumpus was named Assistant Commissioner in charge of Field Services;
- Evan Linhardt was named Chief Information Technology Officer;
- Diana Pasculli became the Director of the Office of Educator Policy and Outreach;
- David Joye was named as the head of the Office of Administration and Budget;
- Jim Palmer was named Director of the Office of Project and Grants Management; and
- Silvana Traba was named as the head of the Legislative and External Affairs Office
The Board also received a presentation on the newly announced Graduation Requirements. The Department released a memo September 30 which outlined different options for students to satisfy graduation requirement, including mastery of a PARCC exam in language arts or math for the classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018 or mastery of one of several substitute competency tests (i.e. SAT, ACT, ASVAB, or Accuplacer).
In addition, the Board received an insightful presentation on the impact of Chronic Absenteeism on student achievement which included both statistics on the impact on student learning as well as the work of Paterson School district to address the problem. A chronically absent student is defined as a student who misses 10% or more of the school days that he or she could have attended, for any reason. Chief Performance Officer Bari Erlichson provided statistics on the impact on both the NAEP as well as New Jersey’s ASK. Her statistics also highlighted the critical nature that absenteeism plays for disadvantaged students in particular.
Following Dr. Erlichson’s presentation the Board heard from a School Leader in Paterson around work they have done to address and reduce absenteeism with much success. By teaming chronically absent students up with staff on a one to one basis they moved the number of chronically absent students in School #5 from 152 in 2012 (the baseline year) to 36 in 2013.
The Board also had a chance to approve changes to the current Educator Effectiveness regulatory proposal. Included in this round of changes was the elimination of the proposed Appeals Process announced back in April which would have allowed for liberal appeal of the evaluation to the Commissioner or Education. That proposal also allowed for electronic communication and modified several key dates including when student growth objectives (SGO) were due (from October 15 to October 31). Changes proposed also included a modification of when adjustments to SGO’s were permitted in light of block scheduling.
Changes to the weights and the more limited SGO appeals process were up for public testimony today with future adoption projected for later this fall.
In addition, the Board approved two changes to the Core Curriculum Content Standards in Technology and 21st Century Life and Careers. In the area of technology the changes incorporate legislative changes which compelled instruction on social media as well as programming (computer science).
NJ Teacher of the Year
Further, the Department publicly announced the 2014-15 Teacher of the Year – Mark Mautone, a special education teacher from Hudson County. Mautone teaches preschool children with autism at Wallace Elementary School in Hoboken. An educator for 19 years, he received his bachelor's degree from Kean University and his master's in Applied Behavior Analysis from Caldwell University. He is an ardent proponent of using technology to enhance instruction of autistic students, and has given presentations from New York City to San Francisco on topics such as using apps to help children with disabilities.
Actively involved in autism support groups, Mautone also serves as a professional advisory board member within the Archdiocese of Newark to help children with autism attend church services and participate in religious education. He serves on the Autism Task Force of the National Catholic Partnership for Disability; Hoboken Cares, an organization that provides free workshops that increase understanding and awareness of disabled individuals; and he has organized trainings for teachers, parents and students on autism and bullying. The New England Center for Children with Autism, one of the most prominent and comprehensive programs in the nation for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, recently asked Mautone to serve as an advisory member for the Autism Curriculum Encyclopedia program, a system for special educators to assess, teach and evaluate the progress of students with autism.
Six finalists for State Teacher of the Year, who earned the highest scores on their applications and interview sessions with an independent panel of educators, also attended today's ceremony at the State Board meeting. They include:
- Stephanie Cardoso, a fifth-grade teacher from Martin Luther King Elementary School in Edison;
- Peter Davis, a technology teacher from Belhaven Avenue Middle School in Linwood;
- Cynthia Leatherwood, an English teacher from the Dennis Township Middle School;
- Salvatore Lima, a science teacher from West Caldwell Tech within the Essex County Vocational School District;
- Kathryn Tricarico, a kindergarten teacher from Adamsville Primary School in the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District; and
- Coleen Weiss-Magasic, a science teacher from the West Milford Township High School.
The New Jersey Teacher of the Year Program is administered by the state Department of Education. The program is sponsored by three organizations and companies that provide valuable resources for the recipient teacher. Educational Testing Service will sponsor a six-month sabbatical from January to June 2015 worth approximately $60,000. During this time, Mautone will work closely with the Department of Education on special projects. In his role as State Teacher of the Year, he will also give presentations around the state and participate in national activities, including meeting the President of the United States. The New Jersey Education Association will pay for the lease of a car and travel-related expenses for a full year, and SMART Technologies will provide a full SMART Classroom package. Every year, New Jersey's Teacher of the Year program recognizes many talented teachers. The process begins at the local level, where school and district-level teachers of the year are chosen. District Teachers of the Year have their applications submitted for competition at the county level. Additional information can be found on the NJDOE's Teacher of the Year web page.
Finally, the Board certified two districts under the Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC) having completed the second cycle of QSAC evaluations. Since the September 3, 2014 State Board meeting, 14 reviews were completed: 8 full reviews (districts on the third round of a full review) and 6 interim reviews in districts that scored less than 80 percent in one or more of the district performance review (DPR) areas. Appendix A lists all of the districts and their DPR scores.
The Board plans to take public testimony on the following code proposals following their November meeting. Registration begins October 15.