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Agenda: State Board to Reaffirm Commitment to Common Core

Resolution backing national standards set for vote in meeting that will also address deregulation, school ‘report cards’ and new teacher ratings

state seal

(The scheduled meeting of the state Board of Education has been postponed due to forecasts of inclement weather. It has not yet been rescheduled.)

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014

Time: 10 a.m.

Place: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton

What they are doing: After holding a meeting off-site last month to hear from the superintendents of state-operated districts, the state board is back in Trenton with a full agenda of presentations to hear and regulations to vote on.

One notable resolution will have the board reaffirming its support of the Common Core State Standards, the national benchmark the board adopted in 2010 and which has since been the subject of considerable debate.

The board will also hear from state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf and his staff on some recent rollouts on new performance reports for schools and teachers.

Common Core: The board adopted the Common Core State Standards without much fanfare at a time when there was little debate about the new standards.

But the standards, adopted by more than 40 states, have since become a rallying point for those opposed to the strictures they place on schools and the expanded testing that will start next year.

The Christie administration has remained steadfast in its support of the Common Core and the state board is expected to again give its full backing with the new resolution.

“We wanted to reinforce the State Board’s commitment to it,” said Arcelio Aponte, the state board’s president. “We’re getting inquiries about whether the state will be opting out, and that is just not an option. We adopted the Common Core and that’s what we are sticking to.”

School deregulation: As the Christie administration continues to loosen some of state regulations of schools, the state board is expected to give final approval to new code pertaining to student support and bilingual education.

Some have expressed concerns that the new codes will free districts from having to report and act on the special needs of students, especially those for whom English is not their first language. But the board, at this point, is expected to adopt the new rules without much dissent.

School and student performance: The board will hear presentations from Cerf’s staff on two big releases going out this month: the School Performance Reports for every school in the state and also the first student performance grades (called “student growth percentiles, or SGPs) for select teachers.

The school reports are the second incarnation of a new report that the administration has compiled for every school.

The SGP teacher ratings being released are a test run of the student measurement that will be ultimately be applied to about one-fifth of New Jersey teachers as part of their annual evaluations.

Coming and going: The board is expected to formally approve the promotion of a new assistant commissioner for student and field services, Susan Martz, who has been serving in an acting capacity since the retirement of assistant commissioner Barbara Gantwerk.

In addition, the board will act on several director and mid-management positions, Aponte said. The department has also recently seen the loss of assistant commissioner Susana Guerrero, who quietly left to become head of the state Ethics Commission. Aponte said he had not heard yet if she will be replaced in the department.

Public input: The board will hold an open session for public comment at the end of the meeting. One topic on the list will be its consideration of new code to change how the state regulates the mentoring of novice teachers.

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