Agenda: State Board of Education Kicks Off New School Year

John Mooney | September 10, 2013 | Education
Teacher evaluations, student testing and Camden takeover among major topics to be discussed

state BOE agenda
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 11, 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 state board will start off the school year with a full agenda touching on several big topics, from teacher evaluation to new student testing. It will also get an update on the state’s Camden school takeover. On a somber note, it will mark the passing of Ilan Plawker, the board’s vice president, who died in July.

Final vote on TEACHNJ rules: After months of deliberation, the board is expected to give its final vote to the administration’s controversial regulations for how teachers are evaluated. Part of the state’s new tenure reform law, the regulations set the details for when and how teachers are measured each year, including the use of student performance in the equation. Schools were expected to institute the new system this fall, even without the regulations officially in place.

No more changes: The new rules have faced significant public criticism, with more than 600 people providing testimony, especially over the student-performance measures, and the administration scaled back the student component a little this summer. But no further changes are expected, and the regulations are all but assured of passing, said board President Arcelio Aponte. “There’s maybe some tweaking, but nothing substantive,” he said. “That looks ready to go.”

Teacher mentors: The board will continue deliberations on new licensing code for teachers, including raising the GPA requirement for new teachers to 3.0 and strengthening the state’s mentoring requirement.

Camden takeover: This will be the board’s first meeting since it held a special session in late August to approve Christie’s appointment of Paymon Rouhanifard to lead the district. That vote was 8-4, with more “no” votes than expected on a board that rarely dissents. Rouhanifard is not expected to be in attendance on Wednesday for a presentation by state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf on what other steps have been taken in the new state-operated district to start the new school year.

New testing: The administration is scheduled to give an update on new online testing slated to start in the next school year as part of New Jersey’s participation in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, known as PARCC. Assistant Commissioner Bari Erlichson, who will make the presentation, has said that field testing of the new exams will continue this coming school year in as many as 10 percent of the state’s districts. PARCC has faced plenty of criticism as well, including from educators who say it represents an even greater expansion of testing in the state and nationwide.

Resolution for Plawker: The board will honor Plawker at the start of the meeting, inviting his widow and family to attend and accept a board resolution marking his service on the board for the last six years. Plawker died of lymphoma on July 11.