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November 20, 2014

NJ Public School Teachers Assess Garden State’s Smallest Scholars

Schools wrap up pilot round of kindergarten-entry assessments (KEA), start to compile data

While debates have raged as to the value and amount of testing that will come this spring with the state’s new online exams, little fanfare greeted the state-sponsored assessments that took place over the past two months in New Jersey’s youngest grades.

In 250 kindergarten classrooms across 25 districts, teachers were evaluating their four- and five-year-old charges and their schoolwork over the course of the first seven weeks of the semester to gauge their social-emotional development, as well as their fledgling literacy and math skills.

These weren’t the classic paper-and-pencil tests — or even online ones. Instead, a system developed by Teaching Strategies Inc. assesses a child’s written work or uses observations to see how well kids interact with their peers.

When the testing per se was complete, the resultant data for each child was compiled and is now being used as the basis for individualized reports.

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November 18, 2014

Preliminary Report Provides Glimpse Of First Year Of New Teacher Evaluations

The following is an article from NJSpotlight.com, here is a link to the article:

While key data is still not available, survey suggests that new rating system based on ‘student growth objectives’ is mostly working well

teacher eval

With New Jersey several months into the second year of a new teacher-evaluation system, the Christie administration has released its first report on how the first year went for tens of thousands of affected teachers.

The news was encouraging in some areas, less so in others.
The interim report, sent to the school districts by the state Department of Education last week, included both qualitative information on how the evaluations were received to hard data on what changes resulted.

For instance, the report said that teachers saw a jump in the number of classroom observations conducted by supervisors, with each tenured teacher seeing an average of one additional visit above the required three.

But it also found that there was little variance in the scores resulting from those observations, raising questions about the rigor of the process.… Read the rest

November 10, 2014

New Jersey Receives One-Year Extension Of ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ Waiver

The following is an article from NJSpotlight.com, here is a link to the article:

But feds say state must fine-tune its system for intervening in certain low-achieving schools

New Jersey has won approval from the Obama administration to extend its new accountability system for intervening in the lowest-achieving schools.

While the approval was never much in doubt, state officials still have some work to do if they plan to seek another one-year federal waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the 2001 law that includes strict student-achievement requirements for all schools, including that they show 100 percent proficiency by this year.

New Jersey had instead instituted a new system of interventions in so-called “priority” schools that show the lowest achievement levels overall and in “focus” schools with the widest achievement gaps.

The state was one of 34 states seeking such extensions of their federal waivers. All but two of the waiver requests were approved.

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October 31, 2014

Assembly Committee Hears Recommendations On Building Better Teachers

The following is an article from NJSpotlight.com, here is a link to the article:

But committee chairman thinks changes more likely to come in administrative code rather than through the law

The Legislature yesterday held a two-hour hearing on a package of recommendations for improving teacher preparation and induction, but it looks like the next steps will likely come more through administrative regulations than any new laws.

The Assembly education committee took testimony from a number of stakeholders who helped put together a report “Taking Back the Profession.” The lead groups included the New Jersey Education Association, New Jersey Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association.

The testimony was largely a repeat of the presentation that the coalition, called the Garden State Alliance for Strengthening Education, made when releasing the report last month. Discussion centered on core pieces of the report: teacher mentoring, “professional learning communities” in schools, and a proposal for a new tier of teacher-leaders.

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October 30, 2014

NJDOE Failure To Update School Facilities Plans Violates Law

The following article is from the Education Law Center, here is a link to the article:

In a decision issued October 17, Administrative Law Judge Ellen Bass ruled the NJ Department of Education (NJDOE) violated state facilities law and regulations by failing to require New Jersey’s urban districts to revise their long out-of-date school facilities construction plans.

“We are very pleased that Judge Bass has stepped in to enforce the right of students in our poorest districts to be educated in schools that are safe, not overcrowded and educationally adequate,” said Education Law Center Senior Attorney Elizabeth Athos. “It is disturbing, however, that we had to go to court in the first place to force the Commissioner of Education and NJDOE to perform one of their most basic constitutional and statutory obligations to these vulnerable school children.”

Under the state Educational Facilities Financing and Construction Act (EFCFA), the NJDOE’s own rules, and the Abbott v.Read the rest

October 9, 2014

Asbury Park Boys & Girls Club Continues To See Improvements

The following is an article from the AsburyParkSun, here is a link to the article:

Asbury Park Boys & Girls Club kids walked through a new set of doors into a fully renovated club space for the first time today.

Through a partnership with Lowe’s home improvement store’s Local Heroes program, improvements to the first floor of the building were completed Sunday, according to Douglas Eagles, the club’s executive director.

“It’s gorgeous,” said Eagles. “Lowe’s redid the entire first floor — from the floor to the ceiling and everything in between.”

Improvements include a new tile floor, sheet rock walls with a fresh coat of paint, new drop-ceiling tiles, new carpeting in offices, a set of new front doors and additional landscaping set off by masonry pavers, Eagles said.

The back patio sports new picnic tables, a grill and a new storage shed, he said.

About $100,000 in renovations to the club’s second-floor recreation and computer rooms were completed last month.… Read the rest

October 8, 2014

Changing N.J. Pension System To 401k Would Cost $42 Billion, Liberal Think Tanks Say

The following is an article from nj.com, here is a link to the article:

TRENTON — Shifting New Jersey’s public employee pension plan to a 401k system would cost $42 billion in the long run, two liberal think tanks claimed today.

In a joint report, New Jersey Policy Perspective and the Keystone Research Center — a Harrisburg, PA-based group — said New Jersey’s pension plan is similar in size and funding to Pennsylvania’s system.

In Pennsylvania, state actuaries, in response to a proposal by Gov. Tom Corbett, conducted an analysis of how much it would cost to shift to a 401k.

“What did actuaries in Pennsylvania estimate would be the transition cost? Forty-two billion,” the report’s author, Keystone Research Center Executive Director Stephen Herzenberg, said in a call with reporters. “So it’s no surprise that when Pennsylvania’s legislature got that eye-popping estimate in May and June of last year, that led Pennsylvania to back away from a switch to a defined contribution account.”

Herzenberg said the $42 billion would be borne by workers, retirees and taxpayers over three decades.… Read the rest

October 7, 2014

Assembly Leaders Lend Support To Teacher-training Proposals By NJEA

The follwing is an article from NJSpotlight.com, here is a link to the article:

Support creation of study panel, propose legislative and regulatory moves to enact reforms

A plan being pushed by the state’s teachers unions and its teachers colleges for rethinking how to train and retain teachers won some key backing yesterday from Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson).

The report by the Garden State Alliance for Strengthening Education — a consortium of teacher, supervisor and higher education groups — recommends creating a commission to review the state’s requirements for teacher preparation both in university and alternate settings, and also calls for steps to strengthen support systems for teachers once on the job.

The report, “Taking Back the Profession,” was released last weekend at an event led by the New Jersey Education Association, the New Jersey Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association.… Read the rest

October 7, 2014

NJ Education Officials Unveil Test Requirements For High-schoolers To Graduate

The follwing is an article from NJSpotlight.com, here is a link to the article:

While plan offers options in lieu of passing PARCC exams, critics say plan breaks promise to delay mandate

Ever since the Christie administration’s announcement two years ago that it would introduce new high-school testing, there have been questions about exactly what students would need to pass to graduate.

The state Department of Education yesterday started to answer that question with a transition plan for the next four years, offering a menu of options for students starting with the Class of 2016, who are now in their junior year.

The plan calls for requiring graduating students to pass at least one of the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests each in math and language arts, but also offers the option of letting students “substitute” a minimum score on the SAT or some other college entrance exam, as well as the option of going through an appeals process using a portfolio of student work.… Read the rest

October 1, 2014

NJ Education Officials Unveil Test Requirements For High-schoolers To Graduate

The follwing is an article from NJSpotlight.com, here is a link to the article:

While plan offers options in lieu of passing PARCC exams, critics say plan breaks promise to delay mandate

Ever since the Christie administration’s announcement two years ago that it would introduce new high-school testing, there have been questions about exactly what students would need to pass to graduate.

The state Department of Education yesterday started to answer that question with a transition plan for the next four years, offering a menu of options for students starting with the Class of 2016, who are now in their junior year.

Final Report of College and Career Readiness Task Force
The plan calls for requiring graduating students to pass at least one of the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests each in math and language arts, but also offers the option of letting students “substitute” a minimum score on the SAT or some other college entrance exam, as well as the option of going through an appeals process using a portfolio of student work.… Read the rest

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