State Board of Education Update
The State Board of Education met on Wednesday, May 2nd. Action items for the day included:
- Adoption of the Commissioner’s proposal pertaining to the status of state operation of the Paterson Public Schools
The agenda item that drew the biggest crowd to the State Board of Education meeting was, without a doubt, two Resolutions that allowed for the return of local control to the Paterson Public Schools. Both Resolutions passed unanimously, and drew loud applause from the audience and praise from Paterson’s school administrators, Board of Ed members, parents, education advocates, and legislators alike. Now that the Resolutions have passed, a full transition plan, which will be establish the framework for return of local control to the district, will be developed. Paterson’s schools have been under some form of state control since 1991. Dr. Ronald K. Butcher was on the State Board and remembers voting for the takeover. He praised Paterson for their hard work, and was pleased to vote to return local control. New Jersey’s third largest city, Paterson is home to 30,000 students. Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly were in attendance and gave remarks. Assemblyman Wimberly said that as a product of Paterson schools himself, his four sons, current students in Paterson, and his wife, a second grade teacher at Paterson, exclaimed “Job well done.” Assemblywoman Sumter thanked the Acting Commissioner and the Department for making Paterson a priority. She said that her heart is filled. And while they “are going to celebrate today and enjoy this moment, we are then going to get back to work.” The Assemblywoman added “We cannot take this lightly.”
- Re-adoption of Code with Amendment: Shift of elementary science assessment from grade 4 to grade 5
The State Board of Education passed one code amendment that will change the grade level at which elementary science assessment is administered as part of the State’s implementation of the revised science standards, which were first adopted in July 2014. Public testimony was held on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. The only change is to shift the elementary science assessment from grade 4 to grade 5. The reason for this shift is due to a change in the curriculum, and the end of grade 5 is the critical place in the NJSLS-S to assess student mastery. Moving the elementary science assessment from grade 4 to grade 5 puts it in line with the curriculum today.
- Approval of 8 appointments
Acting Commissioner Dr. Repollet recommended eight new appointments. All were approved unanimously:
Christine Ann Soto – Executive Legal Affairs Officer
Abdulsaleem Hasan – Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Division of Field Services
Perry Medina – Director, Office of Innovation
Tonya Breland – Director, Office of Professional Development
Linda Eno – Assistant Commissioner, Division of Academics and Performance
Glenn Forney – Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Division of Finance
Dodi Price – Deputy Chief of Staff, Administrative Services
Tonya Hall-Coston – Director, Division of Early Childhood Education
- Resolution to Recognize May 2018 as Physical Fitness and Sport Month
New Jersey has the highest obesity rate among low income children in the country, which leads to shorter and less healthy lives. It is recommended that children aged 6 to 17 years old have a minimum of 60 minutes physical activity every day. Research shows that physically active children are more likely to thrive academically and exhibit better behavior. In an effort to highlight the importance of physical fitness, and with the hopes of creating a healthier lifestyle for all children in the state of New Jersey, the Committee today designated May 1st – 7th National Physical Education and Sport Week and the month of May Physical Fitness and Sport Month.
- NAEP presentation
The NJDOE Assessment team presented an update of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress test, a congressionally authorized assessment administered at grade 4, 8 and 12 to certain schools on odd years. New Jersey’s students performed substantially better than in 2015. In 2017, New Jersey fourth graders tied for highest in the nation in reading and math and New Jersey eighth graders tied for second in reading and math. For more information about NAEP visit: http://www.nj.gov/education/assessment/naep/
- Report by Karan Chauhan, Permanent Student Representative
Referred to as the “highlight of the meeting,” student representative Karan Chauhan did not disappoint with his update of a recent student convention at TCNJ. Over 100 student representatives attended this student-led summit and discussed school climate and culture, extracurricular activities, assessment and testing. Highlighting the importance of dialog between students and administrators, Mr. Chauhan encouraged new schools to the New Jersey Association of Student Councils www.njasc.org so that even more students can take advantage of the leadership opportunities the Association offers.
Karan then presented his findings on a “Mindfulness and Mental Health” committee discussion within his school. Their findings showed that students were most stressed about academic responsibilities. Moreover, students became particularly anxious and stressed when assignments and tests fell on the same day. The Committee mandated a “no homework” weekend to give students time to unplug and decompress. The “no-homework” weekend was found to be generally successful in improving school climate. The recommendation of the Committee is for teachers to be able to communicate with each other so that they can more evenly spread out assignments and tests. The Committee agreed that this would be especially beneficial in reducing stress and improving school climate. Mr. Chauhan pointed to his high school freshman teachers as a best practices model, explaining that the freshmen teachers all meet regularly to collaborate and ensure that the freshmen are having a smooth transition to high school. He indicated that it might be beneficial for teachers of all grades to similarly meet.
- Discussion of the organizational structure for the State Department of Education
Acting Commissioner Repollet shared a sneak peak of a draft of a proposed organizational chart for the State DOE. He and his team are looking at all of the offices within the divisions and probing what the best practices are from top to bottom. There is a consideration that the Department can become a model organization, be streamlined, and reinvent some programs to be both rigorous and relevant to New Jersey students. Dr. Repollet anticipates bringing this to the Board at next month’s meeting. Stay tuned!