NJDOE Announces $2.4 Million for
Second Year of Teacher Evaluation Pilot Program
On March 28, the New Jersey Department of Education announced $2.4 million in available grant funding for 20 new districts to participate in the second year of the pilot program which seeks to develop the state’s new teacher evaluation program. The funding will also support the continued participation of the 10 districts currently in the pilot program. District grant applications are due on April 26, 2012
The centerpiece of the Effective Educators for New Jersey (EE4NJ) program involves developing methods for using measures of student performance in completing a teacher’s evaluation. The department has been careful to note that teachers would not be evaluated on the basis of a single consideration such as test scores, but on multiple measures that include both student learning outcomes and effective practice. The original outlines of the teacher evaluation plan required 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation to come from measures of student achievement.
However, NJDOE’s announcement last week noted that, as part of its ongoing review of the program, it would make refinements to the pilot program for next year. Among the changes: more flexibility in measures of student outcomes for teachers who teach non-tested subjects and grades. For example, student performance measures will not have to make up 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation if the teacher works in a subject or grade that is not tested at a statewide level. Those teachers make up the majority of New Jersey instructors.
The department will also require unannounced observations; and require new observation processes to ensure rater consistency and accuracy, including the use of external observers and double-scoring of some sessions.
Schools Currently Participating Currently 10 districts, 19 School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools and the Newark schools are implementing the new evaluation system as part of the state’s first year pilot plan. The districts are: Alexandria Township (Hunterdon), Bergenfield (Bergen), Elizabeth (Union), Monroe Township (Middlesex), Ocean City (Cape May), Pemberton Township (Burlington), Red Bank Borough (Monmouth), Secaucus (Hudson), West Deptford Township (Gloucester), and Woodstown-Pilesgrove Regional (Salem).
Steps All Districts Must Take With the statewide rollout of the new program planned for the 2013-2014 school year, there are several steps that all districts – including those not participating in the pilot program – will be required to take during the 2012-2013 school year, including forming a District Advisory Committee to ensure stakeholder engagement; adopting a research-based observation model that includes at least four levels of performance ( highly effective, effective, partially effective and ineffective); and training administrators, teachers and the evaluators on the framework. The NJDOE has specific deadlines for reaching these and other milestones during the coming year.
While districts will not be required to adopt an evaluation model from an approved list of providers, the framework used must meet a list of department criteria. Details of the criteria were included in a memo updating chief school administrators and charter school lead persons on the educator evaluation system implementation.
Comments Accepted on New NCLB Waivers
The New Jersey Department of Education is taking public comment on its request for two additional waivers from the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
On Feb. 9, New Jersey was one of 10 states granted a waiver by the Obama Administration to free states of key provisions of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), known officially as the No Child Left Behind Act.
But New Jersey may be able to take advantage of two additional waivers that had been in the works.
AYP, Title I Waivers One of New Jersey’s recent waiver applications would be for the federal requirements to determine Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), which are benchmarks that indicate the percentage of students who must pass state-developed tests.
The New Jersey Department of Education believes the current AYP method – based primarily on students’ scores on state assessments – is inconsistent with the state-developed system of differentiated recognition and accountability, differentiated categories of schools, and broader measures of student growth and graduation rates. The NJDOE says its system is designed to look at college and career readiness.
The NJDOE also announced it is seeking a waiver from federal regulations on how Title I, Part A funds can be distributed. The state wants the flexibility to allocate Title I funds toward priority schools with a graduation rate below 60 percent, even if the school doesn’t meet existing federal poverty standards to receive such funds.
Public Comment Requested The NJDOE is seeking public comment on the two additional waiver requests. Comments can be provided to an NJDOE webpage, which also contains greater detail on the waivers. Comments may also be mailed to the Office of Title I, New Jersey Department of Education, PO Box 500, Trenton, NJ 08625-0500.
Comments will be accepted for approximately two weeks from March 29, the date of the NJDOE’s announcement of the waiver requests. According to the NJDOE, all public comments submitted during the comment period will be taken into consideration and submitted to the U.S. Department of Education.
20 Districts Chosen for Sustainable Schools Project
Twenty New Jersey school districts have been chosen to participate in the Sustainable Schools Project, a three-year study conducted by the Educational Information and Resource Center (EIRC), a public non-profit service agency. The study is underwritten by a grant from the Alliance for Competitive Energy Services (ACES), a statewide energy-buying cooperative, sponsored by NJSBA.
The study will assess the financial benefit of converting older schools to green energy, the contribution of a healthier physical environment to student achievement and the opportunities in STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) that a green school can provide students.
The participating districts are: Allamuchy (Warren); Barrington (Camden); Bedminster (Somerset); Buena (Atlantic); Boonton Township (Morris); Cherry Hill (Camden); Collingswood (Camden); Green Brook Township (Somerset); Highland Park (Middlesex); Holland Township (Hunterdon); Hopewell Valley (Mercer); Medford (Burlington); Neptune (Ocean); North Brunswick (Middlesex); Ogdensburg (Sussex); Passaic (Passaic); Plumstead (Ocean); South Orange-Maplewood (Essex); Swedeboro-Woolrich (Gloucester);West Orange (Essex).
Each project school will produce a “green strategic plan,” action steps, lesson plans and resources. Teams from the project districts will participate in training coordinated by the Educational Leadership Foundation of New Jersey, an NJSBA affiliate, and provided by the Green Schools Leadership Institute. Operated by EIRC, the institute assists educators in efforts to “green” schools and integrate curriculum with state and national education standards, particularly those addressing science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Candidate Kit Available for 2012 November School Elections
The New Jersey School Boards Association has published an online Candidate Kit with information for citizens interested in running for a position on their local board of education in November 2012.
In approximately 80 percent of New Jersey's local school districts, voters will select school board members on Tuesday, Nov. 6, the date of the General Election. To have their names placed on the November election ballot, candidates for school board office must submit a nominating petition to their county clerk by 4 p.m. on June 5. Approximately 1,200 board of education positions, which are non-partisan, will appear on General Election ballots across the state.
Qualifications for Office “I encourage legally qualified citizens with a sincere interest in the well-being of the community and its children to consider board of education membership,” commented Raymond R. Wiss, NJSBA president. “Local boards of education make critical decisions on the policies that govern the operations of the public schools. It is one of the most meaningful contributions that a citizen can make to his or her community.”
Prospective school board candidates can obtain a “School Board Candidate Kit” online at www.njsba.org/candidacy. It includes directions on obtaining and filing a nominating petition, as well as information about legal qualifications for school board candidacy and the role of the school board member. Background about the New Jersey School Ethics Act and important dates in the school election process are also included in the kit.
Nominating Petitions For the November elections, the format and distribution of school board nominating petitions varies among the state’s 21 counties. The NJSBA Candidate Kit includes a county-by-county listing of nominating petition information and access to downloadable petition forms where available.
Recent legislation allowed communities to move their school elections from the third Tuesday in April to the General Election in November. Doing so places the district’s school board candidates on the November ballot – but eliminates the need to present the proposed school budget to voters as long as it remains at or below the state’s 2-percent levy cap. Throughout the state, 468 school districts will have board member elections in November 2012, while 73 school districts retained April school elections.
Candidate Briefings Now Available Online
Each year, the New Jersey School Boards Association holds briefing sessions for school board candidates—and potential school board candidates. The briefings address the role and responsibilities of a board member, covering topic areas such as policy making, school administration, school finance, school-community relations, collective bargaining and relations among the board, superintendent and staff.
This year, candidates can “attend” the briefings by watching a series of three online videos, moderated by Ray Pinney, NJSBA member outreach coordinator.
The first video features Christy Tighe, NJSBA county activities coordinator, speaking on being an effective board member. Donna Kaye, NJSBA counsel, speaks on the legal aspects of board service; and Mary Ann Friedman, NJSBA field service representative, speaks on the roles and responsibilities of being a board member.
Candidates who have questions may contact NJSBA by email.