Agenda: Details of New School Commissioner’s Plans Top Board’s Docket

John Mooney | May 6, 2014 | Education
Hespe and staff will discuss reorganization of Education Department duties, report on new testing and give presentation on Common Core

state seal
Date: Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Time: 10 a.m.

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

What they are doing: Five weeks into his second stint as state Education Commissioner, David Hespe will start laying out more of his agenda, including changes in the organization of the state Department of Education. The moves are more tweaks than major changes, when compared to the reorganization conducted three years ago by former commissioner Chris Cerf. Hespe and his staff will also give presentations on field testing of the new PARCC exams and the state’s re-adoption of the Common Core State Standards.

Shift in responsibilities: Hespe testified before the Assembly budget committee yesterday and said that his proposed reorganization was more about having clearer lines of responsibility within the department. Included will be a shift in the county services provided by the department, with a revived Division of Field Services that would encompass the 13 county superintendent offices. But the new Regional Achievement Centers, a controversial creation under Cerf aimed at assisting individual schools, would remain and be shifted over to the department’s Innovation Office.

One new hire: Hespe said he would appoint Patricia Morgan as his new legal and external affairs officer. Morgan replaces Susana Guerrero, who was tapped by Gov. Chris Christie to be director of the state Ethics Commission. Morgan comes from the governor’s counsel’s office, a typical pipeline into this position, which serves as a liaison between the department and the Statehouse. In addition to Guerrero, Cerf’s former communications and policy director Justin Barra also left the department, and his duties and responsibilities have been merged into Morgan’s job as well.

Testing, old and new: Hespe’s staff will give a presentation on the latest field testing of the new PARCC exams. More than 1,000 school took part this spring in trying out the online exams, which will be administered statewide starting next year.

The board will also have further deliberation on a resolution to readopt the much-debated Common Core State Standards, the nationally adopted set of standards that guide the new PARCC exams.

Old matters, continued: The board will continue deliberation on some hot topics, including the new rules for the ongoing roll-out of the teacher-evaluation system and renewed regulations for charter schools.

Public hearing: The board will hold an open-topic public hearing, starting at 2 p.m.