The State Board of Education at their June 4 meeting returned some semblance of control to state-operated Newark and Paterson, received an overview on student growth objectives, and made some changes to rollout timelines of proposed changes to teacher preparation. The Board’s Nominating Committee also announced their recommendations for Board leadership
Return of Some Local Control
In the most impactful event of the day, the Board acted on two separate resolutions that would cede some controls back to the local boards in the state-operated districts of Newark and Paterson. In Newark, it will be fiscal controls, as ordered under a court agreement reached in 2012. In Paterson, it will be operational controls.
Newark has been under full state control since 1995. The resolution approved gives the Newark School Advisory Board two of five areas of control, since the state returned the control over operations to the board in 2007.
"There’s been substantial improvement, it has occurred over time, and lastly and very important, we believe the district has the capacity to sustain this into the future," Acting Education Commissioner David Hespe said before the vote on the Newark resolution.
New Jersey’s law governing the state’s takeover of a district, known as Quality Single Accountability Continuum, requires districts to earn scores of 80 percent or higher in five areas: instruction and program, personnel, fiscal management, operations and governance. The QSAC scores are given annually and districts receive scores for each of the categories. This year, Newark scored 88 percent in fiscal management, building on scores of 94 percent in 2009, 90 percent in 2010, 93 percent in 2011 and 88 percent in 2012.
The board also voted to return governance to Paterson’s board. The 28,000-student district has been under state control since 1991. Paterson scored 85 percent in operations this year, which built on previous high scores.
While the boards may take action in these areas, Hespe noted that state officials must approve their decisions. In addition, the boards must create transition plans to ensure the shift of power from state to local control is smooth. Hespe said he hoped these plans would "set the stage" for the shift of additional areas.
"We want to make certain we establish working relationships between the superintendents and the advisory boards, that we build expertise in financial management in Newark and operations in Paterson, and we build governance capacity," Hespe said.
And, in the most important educational areas – Instruction and Programs as well as Personnel, the State remains in control of both districts
At the board’s request, assistant state commissioner Peter Shulman, Tim Matheney, and Carl Blanchard, also gave a presentation on one of the key — but often overlooked — measures being used in the state’s new teacher tenure and evaluation system – “student growth objectives.” SGO measures are individual goals set out by teachers and their supervisors for their students’ work in a given year, be it artistic accomplishment or behavior improvements. They are separate from the more controversial test score-driven measures known as “student growth percentiles,” or SGPs. SGOs account for 15 percent of every teacher’s ratings, and the Shulman’s department reported on the progress made in setting and following those measures in the first year of the new system.
Mr. Blanchard gave an overview on both the creation and modification of SGOs as well as Department efforts around SGO rigor.
The Board additionally received a recommendation from the Board’s Nominating Committee as to leadership positions for the coming year. The Nominating Committee Report was given by Board Member, Dr. Ernie Lepore. The committee recommended that Board Member Marc Biedron serve as President, replacing Arcelio Aponte. Board Member Joseph Fisicaro would continue to serve as Vice President. The election is scheduled for July.
Further, the Board approved two appointments to the State Board of Examiners.
- Dr. Laura Morana, Interim Executive County Superintendent for Mercer and Middlesex Counties, and
- Dr. Jonathan Dauber, principal of Lawrence High School in Mercer County.
N.J.S.A. 18A:6-38 provides the State Board of Examiners with authority for issuing, revoking and suspending educational certificates under rules prescribed by the State Board of Education. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:6-34, the membership of the State Board of Examiners includes an assistant commissioner, a county superintendent, two presidents of State colleges, two district superintendents, a high school principal, an elementary school principal, a school business administrator, a librarian, and four teaching staff members other than a superintendent, principal, school business administrator or librarian.
All members of the State Board of Examiners shall be appointed by the Commissioner of Education with the approval of the State Board of Education for a term of two years. There are 14 positions on the board whose terms expire on a staggered schedule. Members may be reappointed after expiration of their terms. Other than Dr. Morana and Dr. Dauber, eight current members of the State Board of Examiners are serving, with precedent and advice from the Attorney General, past the formal expiration of their terms. These members will be formally nominated for reappointment at the July or August State Board of Education meeting.
The Board additionally approved the appointment of the State Special Education Advisory Council. Appointees include:
· Dr. Suzanne Buchanan, Autism New Jersey
· Susan Colacello, Special Olympics of NJ
· Deborah Lynam, Parent Community Engagement at Learning Ally
· Magaly Milton, MJM Consulting
· Dr. Margaret O'Reilly, Bloomfield College
· Leslie Rubenstein, Learning Disabilities Association of NJ
· Fred Tchang, Advanced Opportunities
· Lauren Agoratus, NJ Family Voices
· Myriam Alizo, Statewide Parent Advocacy Network
· Beth Kelly, Riverbank Charter School of Excellence
· Melanie McGacken, Family Support Center of NJ
Also approved was a revision to the Religious Holiday Calendar for the 2014/15 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.
In addition, the Department presented proposed changes at Adoption level to the current Professional Licensure and Standards code, N.J.A.C. 6A:9, related to teacher preparation. As a refresher, the proposed changes include:
- Requiring a standardized assessment of basic skills for entry into a traditional preparation program and to obtain a CE
- Raising GPA requirements
- Raise the GPA required to enter a traditional program from 2.5 to 3.0
- Raise the GPA required for certification from 2.75 to 3.0
- .Requiring a performance assessment for a CEAS
Changes at adoption include the following:
NJPSA had sought many of these amendments last year and was happy to see them come to fruition.
Further, the Department had a second discussion on re-adoption of the School District Operation’s code, N.J.A.C. 6A:32, in light of the sunset of the chapter. Although mostly minor, NJPSA had a chance to weigh in on two points related to the code provision during public testimony. Specifically, the Association re-raised issues related to summer school course credit (under changes adopted in 2013, remedial and advanced course work credit hour requirements were made equivalent. NJPSA sought the establishment of a ‘floor” credit hour requirement with enhanced flexibility for districts where advanced course work is pursued). NJPSA also sought a technical change related to who authorizes a physical or psychological examination of an employee.
Moreover, the Board had a second discussion on proposed changes to their rule-making process, codified at N.J.A.C.6A:6, in light of changes to the Administrative Procedures Act enacted in January that become effective July 1. This chapter outlines State Board of Education’s and the Department’s procedures for promulgating and amending rules in Title 6A of the New Jersey Administrative Code and provides a procedure for an interested person to petition the State Board to create, amend, or repeal a rule. The changes increase the required use of electronic technologies in the rulemaking process. Other amendments are proposed to bring the Chapter’s provisions in line with current State Board and Department practices or to reflect that Title 6 of New Jersey Administrative Code no longer contains education regulations.
The Board also had a first discussion on proposed changes to the Student Residency code, N.J.A.C. 6A:22, in light of recent legislation, P.L.2013, c.231 related to children in family crisis. That legislation permits a child who moves out of a school district due to a family crisis to remain enrolled in that district until the end of the school year. If the child remains enrolled in the district for the remainder of the school year, the district is responsible for providing transportation services to the child, provided the child lives "remote" from the school. The law defines “remote” for an elementary school pupil as living more than two miles from the school, while a secondary school pupil is considered remote if he or she lives more than 2 1 / 2 miles from the school. The state is responsible for paying the cost of the transportation services
Further, the Board reviewed 16 evaluations under the provisions of the Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC) – 15 full reviews (districts on the second round) and 1 interim review in districts that scored less than 80 percent in one or more of the district performance review (DPR) areas. Fourteen districts scored 80 percent or above in all five DPR areas and were approved for certification for a period of three years. Two districts scored below 80% in one or more DPR areas and will develop and implement a QSAC improvement plan to address deficient indicators. Following approval of the plan, the executive county superintendent will conduct an interim progress review. Appendix A lists all of the districts and their DPR scores
Finally, at the July 9 meeting the State Board will take testimony on:
To testify, individuals must register on or after June 19. NJPSA is expected to weigh in on several of the topics including Educator Effectiveness.