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Agenda: N.J. State Board of Education

On the docket for the Board of Education's monthly public meeting: the likely confirmation of Cami Anderson as superintendent of Newark's public schools.

Date: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 Time: 10 a.m. Place: NJ Department of Education, 1st floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton.

What they are doing: The possible confirmation of Cami Anderson as state-appointed superintendent of Newark public schools tops the list of action for the state board this month. There will also personnel discussions and presentations on teacher effectiveness and on science and math instruction, as well as discussion of the state’s monitoring system.

Retreat: The board will also hold a policy retreat following the regular meeting, moving its deliberations to the Chauncey Center of the Education Testing Service in Ewing. The retreat will start Wednesday afternoon with an executive session to discuss acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf’s ongoing reorganization of the department. It will reconvene the next day for two public sessions: a discussion on state board governance, and the creation of a task force to examine issues and policies around closing the student achievement gap.

New Newark superintendent: While Gov. Chris Christie named Anderson to the Newark post last month, the state board has final say on the appointment of superintendents to New Jersey’s two remaining state-operated districts, the other being Paterson. Board president Arcelio Aponte said there is little doubt Anderson will be confirmed, but there remain some questions of what credentials she will require to serve in New Jersey. Anderson is the former senior superintendent of New York City schools, but administrator credential requirements differ from state to state. "By and large, I think she will have the support of the board," he said.

New personnel: Taking first steps in hiring his senior staff, Cerf has advertised for three key positions in the department, two of them as assistant commissioners and the third as communications director. Gregg Edwards, a policy director in the governor’s office, has also left his temporary post as the commissioner’s chief of staff, opening up that job as well. Edwards was moved to that position last fall, following the firing of former commissioner Bret Schundler, to help in the transition to Cerf. The board will take up these and other personnel matters in closed executive session of both the monthly meeting and the retreat.

Physics first: Two parallel programs are underway that promote new approaches to science and math instruction, including a special focus on physics as a primary laboratory science taught to all students. The board will hear a presentation from Robert Goodman, a former New Jersey Teacher of the Year, who has led the "physics-first" initiative.

In other business: The board will hear a presentation from Laura Goe, a research scientist at the Education Testing Service (ETS), on the teacher effectiveness and evaluation practices in other states. The legislature is currently weighing a new teacher evaluation system proposed by Christie and Cerf. The board will form a working group examining ways to streamline the state’s monitoring for public schools. The group is separate from a governor-appointed task force that is reviewing all state requirements on local schools. The reviews are ongoing as the state continues to find the bulk of its schools "high-performing" under the current system, including 26 of 40 in the latest round presented to the board tomorrow.

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