At its August meeting, the state Board of Education received updates on the Newark school district, the standards review process, anti-bullying, teacher certification and evaluation, among other topics.
The superintendent for the state-operated school district of Newark, Christopher Cerf, gave a presentation on his first month on the job as well as his aspirations for Newark’s students. Cerf said that he is seeking to be more transparent, meeting with various stakeholders and the city’s political leaders. In the short-term, he is focusing on preparing the district for the first day of school. In the long-term, his goal is to return the district to local control. Cerf stressed the importance of making decisions that are in the best interests of the students of Newark while respecting parents and the choices that they make on behalf of their children.
Standards Review Kim Harrington, the Department of Education’s chief academic officer, gave a brief update on thestandards review process. Harrington reported that the department received 219 applications for 98 seats on the various review committees. The Department also has an FAQ on its website that it will update on a regular basis concerning the process.
HIB Update The board also received an update on New Jersey’s anti-bullying efforts. NJDOE staff reviewed the history of New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights and provided the state board with statistics concerning the number of incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying in recent years. In 2011-2012, there were approximately 12,000 reported HIB incidents. That number was reduced by nearly half in 2013-2014. District HIB grades and self-assessment were also reviewed.
Teacher Certification The NJDOE staff also discussed the various pathways through which teacher certification may be obtained. There are three pathways to certification: certificate of eligibility with advanced standing, formerly known as the traditional route; certificate of eligibility, formerly known as the alternate route; and the charter school certificate of eligibility, which limits the holder to teaching in charter schools. Of the approximately 3,100 teachers employed in New Jersey charter schools, most hold certificates of eligibility, certificates of eligibility with advanced standing, or standard certificates. Charter school certificate of eligibility holders made up only 4.7 percent of all newly employed teachers in charter schools in fall 2014.
Other Business The state board received an update on the educator evaluation process. As part of the presentation, Commissioner Hespe announced that, like last year, student assessment would only count for 10 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.
The board also approved a request by the Passaic County Educational Services Commission seeking recognition of its role in the sharing and consolidation of services among school districts outside its original territory. The PESC had presented its request at a previous state board meeting.
The state board also heard presentations on regulatory proposals concerning bilingual education and equity and equality in education.
Mark Biedron, state board president, also announced the resignation of Claire Chamberlain Eckert from the State Board of Education.