Agenda: State Board of Education Takes up Graduation Rates, GED

John Mooney | December 3, 2013 | Education
State board president remarks that Christie administration not giving board much to do lately

state seal
Date: Wednesday, December 4, 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 of Education agenda is a light one, with a presentation on graduation rates and a vote on the new high school equivalency program among the highlights. There also could be some discussion about teacher evaluation, an evergreen topic these days. But the board has little administrative code or regulation on its docket, and no public testimony.

What they are not doing: The board’s president, Arcelio Aponte, said the board has been getting less to do of late, with the Christie administration and its state Department of Education holding back for now on further regulatory matters. That has left the board mostly hearing and reacting to administration presentations. In October, there was virtually no new business on the agenda, and last month’s meeting was mostly a long presentation.

Quote of frustration: “I was hoping to have more items [on the December agenda],” Aponte said yesterday. “Whatever the reasons between the department and the governor’s office, things are not moving as much as I had hoped.”
“If we are not going to have more before us,” Aponte added at another point, “we might as well not have the meetings.”

From the administration: Even if it doesn’t have much say at this point, the board will hear from state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf and his top staff about a few key issues. State Assistant Commissioner Bari Erlichson is slated to make a presentation about the state’s high school graduation report on the class of 2013, reflecting a key topic of late with the state ending its current graduation requirements and considering new ones.

Teacher evaluation: The administration is also slated to present the latest word on the state’s teacher evaluation system, as it was tested in 25 pilot districts and reviewed by the Evaluation Pilot Advisory Committee (EPAC), a statewide panel of educators and experts. The final EPAC report comes out as the board has heard plenty of concerns from districts and educators about the speed of implementation statewide, but Aponte doesn’t expect the schedule for the rollout to change much. “Unless there is something we haven’t seen yet, I don’t see anything leading us not to support the current plans,” he said.

High school equivalency: The board is expected to take its final vote on a resolution to set in motion a replacement to the current GED program for New Jersey adults earning their diplomas after high school age. The GED program is being overhauled in states across the country, and New Jersey has proposed that there be the option of three different vendors to provide the equivalency test to adults.