Agenda: State Board of Education

John Mooney | March 5, 2013 | Education
New regulations for teacher evaluation, special education, public testimony all add up to busy day of administrative code review

Date: Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Time: 10 a.m.

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

What they are doing: The board will get the first glimpse of the state’s proposed regulations for teacher evaluations, but it also has a heavy agenda on proposed code for special education, facilities, and charter schools. The board has seen a wealth of new code in the past several months, since the Christie administration seeks to break down some of the rules on districts.

Big caseload: “I don’t think it’s too much,” said Arcelio Aponte, the state board president. “We’ve been eager to dive into these items and move them along. I think we recognize there are regulations that need to be streamlined so districts can focus more on instruction.”

Teacher effectiveness: The new teacher evaluation code is likely the main event of the meeting, with the Christie administration presenting board its proposed regulations for implementing the state’s new tenure law.

A guest speaker: In making the pitch for strengthening how public schools measure their teachers, the administration has invited a noted national expert on teacher quality to speak to the board. Tom Kane of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education directed the new national “Measures of Effective Teaching” (MET) study that tracked thousands of teachers over three years to determine what it saw as the prevalent factors in great teaching.

Special education: While teacher evaluation is getting most of the attention, new proposed code for special education is also starting to stir debate from parents and educators. The proposed code would lighten a wide range of the detailed rules placed on schools in dealing with students with disabilities. But parent advocates have argued the new code would put parents at a disadvantage in the lengthy and arduous processes of evaluating and planning for their children.

The public speaks: The meeting is expected to draw a big crowd for its public testimony section, many speaking out on the special education code and also new regulations about school facilities. State officials said 60 people had signed up to testify, forcing the state board to break into two separate public sessions.

A public concession: The board has faced some backlash for changing how public testimony is to be taken, with current procedure calling for the testimony at the end of the board’s meeting, whenever that may occur. But the board is taking up a resolution tomorrow that would move the public testimony back to a set time, at 2 p.m. on the afternoon of meetings. If approved, it will take effect with the April meeting.