State Board Gets Overview on SGP Scores, Hears from Stakeholders on Changes to Teacher Prep, Licensure and PD

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The New Jersey State Board of Education received a presentation on Student Growth and how it interrelates with evaluation from Chief Talent Officer Peter Shulman and Chief Performance Officer Bari Erlichson at their March meeting.  The Board also heard from stakeholders, including NJPSA, on the impact of proposed regulatory changes related to teacher preparation, including traditional and alternate route programs, professional licensure, and professional development, including mentoring.  The Board additionally made several appointments and approved the religious holiday calendar for the 2015-16 school year.

Learning About Student Growth

The Board received a comprehensive presentation by both Chief Talent Officer Peter Shulman and Chief Performance Officer Bari Erlichson on the methodology behind the Student Growth Percentile or SGP methodology as well as an overview on how the metric is used as part of teacher and school leader evaluation. 


The Board moved several appointments made effective by the recent organization chart changes (NJDOE Announces Org Chart Additions & Changes at October State Board Meeting as NJ Teacher of the Year Announced, Board Also Approves Evaluation Code, October 1, 2014).  Carl Blanchard was named the new Director of the Office of Evaluation while Ms. Robyn Mikulski was named the Director of the Office of Academic Standards.

Religious Holidays Calendar

Also approved was the Religious Holiday Calendar for the 2015/16 school year.  Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:36-14 through 16 and N.J.A.C. 6A:32-8.3(j), the Commissioner of Education, with the approval of the State Board of Education, is charged with the responsibility of establishing annually the calendar of approved religious holidays for which an absence must be excused.

Changes to Teacher Preparation, Certification and Professional Development

In addition, the Board had a second discussion and took public testimony on proposed changes to preparation programs, including traditional and alternate route, as well as certification and professional development.  Chief Talent Officer Peter Shulman, who presented on the code, also announced that the Department would be providing an additional month of time within the review cycle in order to allow stakeholders ample time to comment on the dense code provision.  NJPSA, in addition to other P-12 and higher education stakeholders provided initial comments to the Board on the code proposal.  The changes are outlined below:

he New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) also released its new code detailing how prospective educators are to be trained and licensed.   Chief Talent Officer Pete Shulman presented the code to the Board.  The proposal includes changes for both ‘traditional’ route candidates as well as ‘alternate route’ candidates.  Among the changes, the proposals double the time that teacher candidates will need to serve as student teachers in a district, as well as the time required for those taking the alternate route.

According to Mr. Shulman the Department began their work around licensure with the June 2014 regulatory package, which raised the bar for entry into the profession.  This proposal seeks build on that work to:

  • Create a higher bar for entry into the teaching profession
  • Ensure preparation that supports high-quality instruction (e.g. Common Core State Standards, PARCC, and evaluation), guaranteeing novice teachers are exposed to an environment promoting student achievement
  • Integrating rich data to distinguish the quality of individual teacher candidates and their programs

In order to facilitate the changes the Department re-codified the title in August under four sub-titles:

The changes appear to coalesce around four (4) principles as broken down by route of entry to the profession:

  • Strong Candidates Entering the Profession

o    Traditional candidate – More selective criteria (GPA raised to 3.0 and basic skills requirement standardized)

o    Alternate route candidates – Programs would be rated and take on added responsibility for accepting candidates to their programs

  • Updated Preparation Requirements

o    Traditional candidate –

  • Richer clinical experiences that include a student teaching experience occurring over one school year, under an effective or highly-effective teacher, with at least 50 hours of practicum prior
  • Providers given flexibility to innovate with standards-based curriculum
  • Improved incentives for hosting student teachers (non-regulatory)

o    Alternate route candidates –

  • Single program provides end-to-end, sequential, coherent training to a cohort of teachers
  • Expanded duration of 2 years (350 hours or 24 credits) including comprehensive in-service preparation that focuses on classroom-based coaching / support and seat time
  • 50 hours of improved pre-service with required clinical experience
  • Providers establish fees for programming; can enhance offerings while also considering candidate affordability

Demonstrated Individual Performance (all routes)

o    More equitable criteria across all types of certification (all types of candidates required to pass a performance assessment)

o    Stricter initial certification criteria (GPA raised to 3.0 and performance assessment established)

o    Multiple years of experience required to earn standard

o    Multiple measures of performance required to earn standard certification

o    Updated reciprocity rules require novice teachers to pass a performance assessment and experienced teachers to demonstrate successful evaluation ratings

o    Stricter policies support all students being taught by high quality teachers

The graphic below outlines the changes across the defined areas above:

Changes are also expected with regard to substitute certification as outlined in the following slide:

In addition, the proposal calls for changes in the reciprocity rules for out of state candidates. 

Finally, the proposal also includes changes with regard to school leaders:

Program Data and Support

Assistant Commissioner Shulman also shared some insight on the new data sources that Department is tapping via higher education and the labor market to drive data on our future educators as they enter the profession and succeed.  At least some of the proposals stem from recommendations made by a coalition of education stakeholders including higher education, NJEA and NJPSA.  Unfortunately one of the biggest items proposed as part of that collaboration – a new ‘Teacher Leader’ endorsement did not make it off the drawing board in the proposal announced yesterday.  Legislation associated with creating that endorsement statutorily continues to move through the legislative process

Public Testimony

Public Testimony on the proposed code was robust with members of the P-12 and higher education community asking for addtional time to review the code and, particularly with regard to the higher education community, flexibility around instituting the ramped up clinical experence requirements articulared under the code.  

Qualified Zone Academy Bonds

Finally the Board had a discussion at adoption level about the re-adoption with amendments of rules pertaining to school financing proposed at N.J.A.C. 6A:25, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:4-15, 18A:7G-26, and 18A:36A-18 and 26 U.S.C. § 1397E.  This chapter implements the Federal Qualified Zone Academy Bond program for New Jersey (a federal program established under the 1997 Tax Payer Relief Act which allows bonds to be sold to support rehabilitation projects at schools that serve low-income families).  Under the program, bondholders receive a tax credit (in lieu of interest payments).  Funds may not be used to construct new schools.

Since the program’s inception, Congress has authorized an annual allocation of $400 million, except for 2008-2010 when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act boosted this amount to $1.4 billion.  The program is subject to reauthorization and has not yet been authorized beyond 2013 (2013 allocation may be issued up to December 31, 2015).  New Jersey has been allocated roughly $7.5 million annually (except roughly $25 million annually 2008-2010).  From 1998-2001 (federal fiscal year) $30 million (approx.) funded health and safety projects in SDA districts funded out of the original $8.6 billion bond authorization in EFCFA.  In 2002, the law was amended to allow charter schools to avail themselves of the federal funds.  Between 2009-2013 (federal fiscal year) $72 million  (approx) of the bond allocation has been assigned to charter schools. 

The Department is bringing the code provision to the Board for re-adoption with minor changes.

·         Powerpoint: Qualified Zone Academy Bonds

·         Matrix of Changes: Qualified Zone Academy Bonds