Agenda: State Board of Education

State board takes center stage with graduation, charter school regulations

Date: Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Time: 10 a.m.

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

What they are doing: After a few quiet months, the board will discuss several major reform topics in the state, including proposed new graduation requirements and some changes to the New Jersey’s charter school regulations.

Why they matter: The board for the first time in several years has a full complement of 13 members, including six appointed by Gov. Chris Christie. And it appears it may in turn get more action, as Christie sends some significant policy issues across its docket, including new graduation requirements announced yesterday. The board wants to step up its own role as well, and has asked for presentations on several key topics, including the data system that will drive many of Christie’s reforms.

Cerf report: A great deal will come in the monthly report from acting education commissioner Chris Cerf, who is scheduled to update the board on several key proposals. The graduation requirement plan is likely the headliner, two days after the administration announced its plans for additional high schools tests and a day after it released its long-awaited 2011 graduation rates for every district. Cerf will also speak on charter schools and new provisions for meeting federal accountability laws.

School choice, in charters: The board will get its first look at new charter school regulations that the administration contends will add both flexibility and accountability for charter schools. The proposed regulations would create a two-tier application process that will allow the department to focus more on applicants ready to open, but also provide more time for local districts to review applications as well. The new regulations would also provide new options for the commissioner to deal with lower-performing charters, and ease some provisions in the existing regulations that have been seen as an obstacle to online charter schools.

School choice, in district: The board will also receive a set of new regulations for interdistrict choice, the two-decade old system that allows students to leave their hometowns to attend other districts’ schools. The program has vastly expanded in the past two years, and the new regulations seek to address some of the issues that have arisen in that expansion.