State Board Moves Changes to Evaluation Forward, Reviews Tech & Career Core Curriculum Content Standards Resolution & Adopts Praxis Qualifying Scores

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The New Jersey State Board of Education moved several changes to principal and teacher evaluation forward at their August 6 meeting.  The changes were consistent with the Governor’s announcement late last month.  The Board also adopted new praxis qualifying scores in a number of areas and reviewed a resolution that would allow readoption of technology and career core curriculum content standards next month. In addition, the Board had a second discussion on minimal changes to the Special Education code.  This was new Board President Marc Biedron's inaugural meeting.

Ed Effectiveness Changes

In addition to receiving a presentation on Student Growth Objectives from members of the New Jersey Department of Education’s Office of Evaluation, the Board also reviewed changes at proposal level to the proposed Educator Effectiveness code.  Among the changes are modifications in weights for the components of teacher and principal evaluation as well as the creation of a modified ‘appeals process’ related to issues with Student Growth Objectives or Administrative Goals. 

Proposed Changes to Weights for School Leaders

Proposed Changes in Weights for Teachers

Curtailing Appeals

Unlike the original proposal which included a broad appeal process that terminated with the Commissioner of Education which NJPSA robustly opposed (NJPSA Weighs in on Ed Effectiveness & Charter Schools As State Board Elects New Leadership, Re-adopts Core Curriculum Content Standards & Releases Much Revised Special Education Proposal, July 9, 2014), this proposal is significantly tailored.  Specifically, the proposal would only allow an appeal to the Executive County Superintendent if a teacher’s SGO score or principal’s Administrative Goal was the sole reason that his or her summative rating dropped from Effective to Partially Effective or from Partially Effective to Ineffective. 


Core Curriculum Content Standards Prep for Adoption

Beyond evaluation, the board also had a chance to review the resolution for potential re-adoption of the Technology  and 21st Century Life & Careers core curriculum content standards.  The Board is actively taking testimony on both standards.  Hearings are scheduled for August 12 from 4 to 5 pm at Gloucester County College in Sewell, NJ (online registration) and on August 13 from 4 to 5 pm in Flemington at the Hunterdon County Route 12 County Complex, Bldg. 1 (Online Registration). Registration will be accepted until August 8.  An additional hearing will also be held at the New Jersey Department of Education on September 3.  Registration for that date is forthcoming.

Changes to Tech Standards 8.1 & 8.2

Several changes are proposed related to technology standards 8.1 and 8.2.  The modifications relate to:

  • Changing technologies and terminology
  • Changing skill sets and tools
  • Language changes enabling more cross-curricular application
  • Tighter alignment with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) standards
  • Addition of Computational Thinking: Coding and Programming
  • Support NGSS, Offices of Early Childhood and Career and Technical Education
  • Alignment with requirements of Legislation A-3292 Sca (1R) (mandating training on social media)

Changes to 21st Century Life & Career Standards

In addition, the Office of Career and Technical Education (CTE) prepared a robust presentation on CTE programs and then followed up with an accounting of proposed changes to 21st Century Life and Career Standards. 

Proposed changes to the current 21st Century Life & Career standards include:

  • The Adoption of the 12 Career Ready Practices of the Common Career Technical Core
    • Describe skills that students will need to develop and practice to be career ready
    • Implement across grade levels, over time
    • Developmentally appropriate
    • Parallel mathematical practices of CCSS
  • Minor revisions to align with the National Standards for Financial Literacy
  • Deletion of some standards; movement of others to different grade levels
  • Condensing standards deemed duplicative by personal financial literacy teachers and financial management practitioners in industry
  • Reducing the number of standards at the middle school and high school levels by synthesizing indicators into succinct overarching standards
  • Alignment to the ASCA National Standards for Students
  • Providing educators more flexibility in helping students achieve mastery; less prescriptive
  • Replacing 9.4 with the Common Career Technical Core (CCTC) for CTE programs


Praxis Test Qualifying Scores Accepted

Further, the Board approved a resolution adopting revised PRAXIS II tests and corresponding qualifying scores for attainment of a certificate for middle school teachers in certain subjects.  Educational Testing Service (ETS) recently established the new tests in these subjects to replace the current Praxis II Subject Assessment tests that are in use.  The following qualifying scores become effective September 1, 2014:

Praxis II Test                                                    Qualifying Score

Middle School Science                                                150

Health and Physical Education                                    160

Family and Consumer Sciences                                   153

Speech-Language Pathology                                        162

Elementary Education:

            Reading and Language Arts Subtest                 157

            Mathematics Subtest                                      157


Changes to Student Residency

Moreover, the Board moved changes to the Student Residency code forward.  That proposal makes minor amendment to current regulation, 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.  Yesterday’s approval allows the proposal to be published in the New Jersey Register which moves the proposal toward final adoption later this fall.

Special Education

The Board also had a second chance to review a revamped, slimmed down Special Education code proposal.  The Department argued that in light of the currently convened Taskforce on Special Education, they would proceed with only amendments required for purposes of alignment with current state and federal statute (Governor Names Members of Special Education Taskforce, April 23, 2014).  The revamp is significantly slimmed down from the original proposal that called for more sweeping changes – some of which NJPSA had deep concerns with (NJPSA Testimony (March 2013)). 

The changes primarily align the code with Federal and State requirements as well as Council on Local Mandates Decision:

  • Add a requirement that a one-time consent be obtained before accessing a child’s or parent’s public benefits or insurance for the first time[2.3(a)6].  34 CFR §300.154(d)
  • Add two additional instances when a copy of the procedural safeguards statement must be provided to parents by the school district when a:
    • Request for a complaint investigation is submitted to the Department [2.3(g7iv)]; and
    • Student is removed for disciplinary reasons and the removal constitutes a change in placement [2.3(g)7v] (34 §CFR 300.504)
  • Amend to incorporate that a parent may obtain only one independent evaluation after a district initial evaluation or reevaluation [2.5(c)] (34 CFR §300.502(a)(b)(5) (limits parents’ right to an independent evaluation to one evaluation following a district evaluation).
  • Repeal language that allowed a school district to conduct assessments in an area not already assessed by the school district, prior to an independent evaluation [2.5(c)1 and 1i-iv] (March 28, 2012 Federal directive – requires a district to either grant an independent evaluation request or file a due process petition seeking to deny the request).
  • Replace the terms “cognitively impaired” with “intellectual disability” and deleting reference to “mentally retarded,” “trainable,” “educable,” and “eligible for day services” [3.5(c)3 and10i] (Federal Pub. L. 111-256 – removed all references in the IDEA to “mental retardation” and replaced it with “intellectual disability”).
  • Amend to clarify that a preschool child with a disability corresponds to a child between the ages of three and five who is experiencing a developmental delay or is a child with an identified disabling condition [3.5(c)10ii] (34 CFR §300.8(b) and 300.11(b))
  • Propose new requirements to address stability in special education services including:  (1) school districts develop a plan to establish stability in special education programming [1.2(b)19]; and (2) IEP teams consider the consistency of the location of services for students who are prone to regression due to frequent changes in location [3.7(c)4] (State P.L. 2013, c.19)
  • Propose to adopt the International Dyslexia Association’s definition for dyslexia [1.3] (State P.L. 2013, c.131 – requires the Department to incorporate this definition for dyslexia into code).
  • Amend the class age range for special class programs at the elementary level from three years to four years [4.7(a)2] (July 26, 2007 Council on Local Mandates – decided that the State regulation was an unfunded mandate in violation of Article VIII, Section 2, paragraph 5 of the New Jersey Constitution).


Qualified Zone Academy Bonds

The Board had a second discussion on 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.

Certification of School Districts

Finally, the Board reviewed 38 reviews that were completed by the executive county superintendent since July 9: 29 full reviews (districts on the third round of a full review) and 7 interim reviews in districts that scored less than 80 percent in one or more of the district performance review (DPR) areas.  Appendix A (8-6-14)  lists all of the districts and their DPR scores. 

Four districts scored 80 percent or above in all five DPR areas and were recommended for approval for certification for a period of three years.  Thirty-two districts scored below 80% in one or more DPR areas and are required to 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.