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Agenda: PARCC “Cut Scores” and Teacher-Training Changes Will Top a Busy Day

State Board to hear recommendations on passing grades for PARCC exams, along with new rules for student teaching and ‘alternate route’

state seal

Date: Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015

Time: 10 a.m.

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

What is it doing: The State Board of Education will have a full day, with presentations and actions on the new PARCC results, the ongoing Common Core standards review and the state-run Newark school district.

In addition, there will be a final vote on a swath of new and controversial administrative code dealing with teacher preparation and support, and the board will also take up the issue of “green schools” and sustainability.

Highlight 1: The PARCC action will be significant, as the State Board must formalize so-called “cut scores” for the new tests. The PARCC consortium has set its own scores defining five categories of proficiency, ranging from “not meeting expectations” to “exceeding expectations.”

The state can adjust those passing levels if it chooses. But the Christie administration is recommending the state follow PARCC’s benchmark scores, and board President Mark Biedron has said he expects the board will go along.

Highlight 2: After eight months of review, the state board will take its final vote to adopt new code defining what’s required for new teachers to get their certificates, whether at traditional colleges or by way of alternative programs.

Crafting the new rules has been both collaborative and contentious -- and the final vote is likely to reflect that. Colleges have been especially concerned about a new requirement expanding student teaching time to a full year of school. Some vocational schools worry that tougher requirements for “alternate route” teachers will discourage mid-career educators.

Biedron has said he hopes to address the concerns and will monitor the impact of the rule changes. “If there are red flags, I have been promised that we can adjust down the road,” he said. “But we need to get this adopted.”

Newark is back: In what has become almost a monthly agenda item, Newark schools Superintendent Chris Cerf will be back before the state board. This time, he will present the official annual report that all the state-run districts must provide, covering everything from student performance to fiscal health.

“Green” schools: The board will hear a presentation about state and other initiatives to improve energy efficiency in schools, including the New Jersey School Boards Association’s “Sustainable Schools” project.

Public testimony: The board will hear testimony on proposed changes to the state’s “equity and equality” requirements. The proposed regulations had been contentious, when the administration initially sought to significantly scale back requirements for tracking equity measures in schools and also to open up the way for opening of single-sex and other specialized schools. However, some of those changes were scuttled, and the latest proposal has drawn limited protests so far.

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