Sunday, November 13, 2011

They have the Power to Change the Lives of Your Children Forever!

Put faces on the people who make up the New Jersey State Board of Education. It is important that you visualize the faces of the people making vital decisions about the future of your children.

Get to know them. You should also get to know everything you can about your local Board of Education.

                       How are the children? Are they well?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Closing Statement of New Bill Regarding Teacher/Principal/Assistant Principal Tenure

SENATE, No. 2925

Under current law, teachers, principals, and other teaching staff members whose positions require that they hold a certificate issued by the State Board of Examiners receive tenure after completing three years of employment in a school district. This bill provides that a person who is employed in the position of teacher, principal, assistant principal, or vice-principal on or after the bill’s effective date will receive tenure after the employee receives a rating of effective in each of three consecutive annual evaluations, with the first effective rating being received on or after the completion of the second year of employment. This means that,under the bill, a newly hired teacher, principal, assistant principal, or vice-principal could qualify for tenure after 4 or more years of employment in the district, depending on his evaluations. Also, in the case of a teacher, he must complete a mentorship program in the first year of employment. All other school district employees currently eligible for tenure will be able to obtain tenure after a three-year period of employment, as established by existing law.

  • The bill provides that a teacher, principal, assistant principal, or vice-principal who is transferred or promoted must be evaluated as effective in three consecutive annual evaluations in order to qualify for tenure in the new position. 
  • The bill provides that any teaching staff member under tenure who accepts employment in the same position in another school district will be eligible for tenure after two years of employment in the new district and, in the case of a person employed in the position of teacher, principal, assistant principal, or vice-principal, after being evaluated as effective in two consecutive annual evaluations.
The bill empowers a school principal to make certain personnel decisions relating to instructional staff employed at his school, although the bill preserves the seniority rights of teachers, principals, assistant principals, and vice-principals who have acquired tenure prior to the bill’s effective date. Under current law, the board of education has the authority to appoint, transfer or remove employees upon the recommendation of the superintendent.

  • This bill provides that, except as otherwise constrained by seniority rights that have accrued to employees who acquired tenure prior to the bill’s effective date, the principal, in consultation with school improvement panels established under the bill, will have sole authority to appoint or remove an employee in the position of teacher, assistant principal, or vice-principal. 
  •  Any action taken by a principal to appoint or remove an employee will not be subject to approval by either the superintendent of schools or the board of education.
In order to ensure the effectiveness of its teachers, 

  • the bill directs each school to convene a school improvement panel. The panel will include the principal, an assistant or vice-principal, and a teacher or other member of the instructional staff nominated by the principal and approved by the instructional staff.  
  • The bill provides that the panel will be directly involved in the hiring of new teachers, oversee the mentoring of teachers, and conduct annual evaluations of teachers. 
  •  Under the bill, the panel is also charged with identifying professional development opportunities for all instructional staff members. 
  •  The panel must conduct a mid-year evaluation of any tenured teacher who is evaluated as ineffective in his most recent annual evaluation. 
  •  Panel members are prohibited from participating in their own evaluations.
  • The bill further provides that the principal, in consultation with the panel, must revoke the tenure granted to an employee in the position of teacher, assistant principal, or vice-principal if the employee is evaluated as ineffective in two consecutive annual evaluations. 
  • Similarly, the bill provides that the superintendent, or his designee, must revoke a principal’s tenure if the principal is evaluated as ineffective in two consecutive annual evaluations. 
  • Under the bill, the revocation of the tenure status of a teacher, principal, assistant principal, or vice-principal will not be subject to grievance or appeal unless the grievance or appeal relates to a charge that the principal, superintendent, or designee of the superintendent failed to adhere substantially to the approved evaluation system.
The bill provides that, in the event of a school closure, a teacher who acquires tenure on or after the effective date of the bill and whose position was eliminated due to the closure must be designated by the school district as a member of a priority hiring pool. A member of a priority hiring pool must be provided an opportunity to interview for vacant in-district teaching positions for which he is qualified before a school improvement panel may consider outside applicants. A member will continue to receive his salary and benefits in the 12 months following the school closure, or until such time as he secures another position within the district or submits his resignation. In the event that the teacher has not secured an in-district teaching position within 12 months of the school closure, the district will place the teacher on an unpaid leave of absence but will keep him in the priority hiring pool until such time as he secures employment in the district. A teacher who acquired tenure prior to the bill’s effective date and whose position was eliminated due to a school closure, or any other type of reduction in force, will retain his seniority rights pursuant to N.J.S.18A:28-10 and N.J.S.18:28-12 and will be placed on a preferred eligible list in the order of seniority for reemployment and, whenever a vacancy occurs in a position for which he is qualified, he will be reemployed.
Under the bill, each board of education must:
· adopt a policy to establish a mentoring program in which experienced teachers are paired with first-year teachers to provide confidential support and guidance in accordance with the Professional Standards for Teachers;
· adopt a policy to provide its teaching staff members with ongoing professional development and provide additional professional development for any teaching staff member who fails or is struggling to meet the performance standards established by the board for his job; and
· annually submit to the Commissioner of Education, for review and approval, the evaluation rubrics that will be used by the district to assess the effectiveness of its principals, assistant principals, vice-principals, and teachers.
This bill streamlines the process under the current tenure hearing laws by establishing timelines designed to expedite the process. The bill shortens the timeframe under which the Commissioner of Education must render a determination on the sufficiency of a tenure charge and refer the case to the Office of Administrative Law from a 25-day period to a 10-day period. The bill provides that the hearing on a tenure charge before an administrative law judge will be held within 30 days of the transmittal of the charge to the Office of Administrative Law. The bill further provides that the final determination on the charge will be made by an administrative law judge rather than the Commissioner of Education and such determination must be made within 30 days of the start of the hearing. Under current law, a determination of any controversy or dispute must be made within 60 days after the close of the hearing. The bill also provides that the State Board of Examiners may only review those tenure cases in which the administrative law judge’s findings were in support of the charges.
The bill repeals section 1 of P.L.1998, c.42 (C.52:14B-10.1), which outlines the procedure tenure cases currently follow when referred to the Office of Administrative Law

For Complete Information on new Bill:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The New Jersey State Department of Education is Reaching Out to You

Trenton, NJ - The Department of Education today released a draft outline
of its waiver application to the US Department of Education for relief
from certain provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The Department
is soliciting comment from educators and the general public on the
outline through its website through Wednesday, November 9. This
comprehensive waiver would allow the Department to develop a new
accountability system to replace the provisions of NCLB, centered on
providing support and intervention to the State's lowest-performing
schools and those with the largest in-school gaps between subgroups of

As part of the waiver application, the Department of Education will
present a plan to act on four principles, as required in the US
Department's application. Those principles include 1) College and career
ready expectations for all students; 2) State-developed differentiated
recognition, accountability, and support; 3) Supporting effective
instruction and leadership; and 4) Reducing regulatory and data
collection burden on districts.

"NCLB remains an important piece of legislation because it put a renewed
focus on student achievement and accountability in K-12 education and
highlighted the needs of typically underperforming student populations.
However, the law suffers from some significant flaws, including its
failure to give credit for progress and its one-size-fits-all approach
to labeling schools as failing," said Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf.
"Through our waiver application, we are developing a new accountability
system that allows for differentiated supports and interventions of the
schools with the most pervasive and persistent achievement problems.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to school improvement which is
why we must focus our resources and most significant interventions on
those schools with long standing history of low performance."

Under NCLB, a school is listed as "failing" if it does not make
Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP) for two years in a row. To make AYP a
school must meet state benchmarks in language arts and math for the
total population and all subgroups. Missing the benchmark for any
subgroup in any grade span causes a school to fail to make AYP. This
year, 1,231 schools, or 55.5% of schools did not make AYP for one or
more years. That number is an increase over the previous year, where
1,136 schools, or 51% of schools, did not make AYP. This jump is, in
part, a result of an increase in the percentage of students that must be
proficient in the 2010-11 school year, with a requirement under the law
for 100% of students to be proficient by 2014.

Those schools failing to make AYP for two years in a row are identified
under NCLB as a School in Need of Improvement (SINI). Title I SINI
schools are subject to a tiered set of sanctions, including setting
aside 20% of their Title I funds for Supplemental Educational Services
(SES). For the 2010-11 school year, the number of schools designated as
SINI increased to 862, or 38.8% of schools. This number is an increase
over the previous year, where 656 schools, or 29.4% of schools, were
designated as SINI.

In developing a new accountability system, the Department will create
three tiers of schools, which will be identified using both growth and
absolute proficiency:

*Priority Schools: The Department will identify the lowest-performing
five percent of Title I schools across the state using proficiency,
growth, and graduation rates. Any non-Title I school that would
otherwise meet the same criteria will also be designated as a Priority

*Focus Schools: The Department will identify at least 10 percent of
Title I schools as Focus Schools. These schools will be selected from
Title I schools that are not categorized as Priority Schools and will be
identified based upon achievement gaps between subgroups and low
performance or graduation rates among particular subgroups. Any
non-Title I school that would otherwise meet the same criteria will also
be designated as a Focus School.

*Reward Schools: The Department will identify Reward Schools based on
high proficiency levels or high levels of growth, including progress
toward closing achievement gaps. This will allow for a range of schools
from across the state to attain Reward status, regardless of their
absolute starting point.
The Department will create customized interventions to turnaround
Priority and Focus Schools, based on their individual needs. Among
others, these interventions include a focus on improving instruction,
using data to drive decision making, and expanding learning time. The
Department will also develop financial bonuses for Reward Schools as
well as opportunities to share best practices across the state.

In addition, the application also includes support for several pending
bills centered on Governor Christie's previously announced reforms that,
if passed, would expand the reach and efficacy of the Department's
proposed interventions.

*Two pending proposals would modify the State's tenure law, allow for
differentiated pay, prohibit the practice of firing the newest - and
often best - teachers first during a layoff, and require that a teacher
could not be placed in a school without his consent and that of the
principal. These reforms are not only consistent with the federal
turnaround principles endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education in
the ESEA waiver application, but also necessary to strengthen the
Department's proposed interventions.
*Proposed legislation around the current charter school law, Urban Hope
Act, and Opportunity Scholarship Act will increase the number of
high-quality options for students in Priority and Focus Schools.
For schools that do not fall into one of these three categories, the
Department will create performance targets and publicly release new and
detailed performance reports, but will provide districts flexibility on
the supports and interventions to improve student performance.

"Accountability systems do not exist for their own sake, but as part of
an overall strategy to advance student learning and ensure that children
graduate from high school ready for college and career," said Acting
Commissioner Cerf. "The plan we are developing in our waiver
application will not only increase accountability for school
performance, but also serve as a mechanism to improve student
performance. It will do that by more accurately measuring school
performance by including growth in addition to absolute performance, and
by providing flexibility from overly bureaucratic regulations on how to
support school improvement."

To develop this outline, the Department solicited feedback on its
website from educators and community members for two weeks in October.
The Department also held a series of meetings with educators and the
leadership of teachers unions and associations and will hold additional
meetings in the coming week to finalize its application.

A copy of the NCLB waiver outline can be found at the link below, along
with a form to submit public comment. Comments will be accepted through
that website through Wednesday, November 9. The first opportunity to
submit an application to the US Department of Education is November 14.

A list of schools that did not make AYP can be found below.

An overview of the required interventions for SINI schools can be found
at the link below.

To see release on Web site:

An Additional $8.2 million in Federal Funds for New Jersey School Districts

Trenton, NJ - The Christie Administration announced today an additional
$8.2 million in federal funds for school districts across the state to
support children's education. This additional funding comes from a new
federal allocation as well as state-level efficiencies in administering
the Ed Jobs funding announced in September 2010.

"In these economic times, we are doing everything we can to make sure
schools have the resources they need to be successful," said Acting
Commissioner Chris Cerf. "Through smart planning and efficient
administration, we are excited to be able to free up additional funds to
send directly to districts to pay for human capital costs."

In September 2010, the federal government made $262 million available to
New Jersey in Ed Jobs funding. Districts have until September 2012 to
use these funds only for compensation and benefits and other expenses,
such as support services, necessary to retain existing employees, to
recall or rehire former employees, and to hire new employees, in order
to provide early childhood, elementary, or secondary educational and
related services.

The Department of Education held back 2%, or roughly $5.2 million, to
administer the program, which included staff resources and the
development of a software system to track the data. Last month, the
federal government made nearly $4 million in additional funds to New
Jersey. In addition, through efficient planning and prudent management,
the Department was able to make nearly $4.3 million in additional funds
available directly to school districts for education out of the $5.2
million in federal funds that had been provided for administrative

A district breakdown of this additional funding is available at the link

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Jersey's Ranking in Grade 8 Reading

Trenton, NJ - Under the Christie Administration,
New Jersey continued to improve its overall national ranking on the 2011 National Association of Educational Progress (NAEP), the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. Between 2009 and 2011, New Jersey maintained its ranking as the 2nd highest performing state in the country in grade 4 and 8 reading,and improved from 5th to 4th in grade 4 math, and from 5th to 3rd in grade 8 math.
Though nearly all subgroups have improved since 2003, the gap between low- and high-income students remains one of the largest in the country. In grade 8 reading, New Jersey ranks 50 out of 51 states plus DC in the size of its achievement gap.
For additional information: