Agenda: State Board Takes up “Student Growth Objectives” for Teachers

John Mooney | August 5, 2014 | Education
New measure of teacher effectiveness among the items at top of agenda for mid-summer meeting

state seal
Date: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014

Time: 10 a.m.

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

What they are doing: The mid-summer meeting continues the board’s routine work in updating standards and code, but will also include a presentation by the Christie administration on the “student growth objectives” (SGOs) that will now count for up to one-fifth of every New Jersey teacher’s evaluation.

Other significant topics on the agenda include code changes for teacher evaluation, special education, charter schools and student residency.

The rise of SGOs: The use of SGOs in evaluating teachers reflects their increasing importance in New Jersey. The SGOs measures are objectives for each teacher to be agreed upon by the individual teachers and principals, and will look at areas of student performance not measured by testing, ranging from attendance to special projects to specific skills. The Christie administration was invited by the board to give an overview of the process.

Christie compromise: This will be the board’s first meeting since Gov. Christie announced a compromise to address concerns about over-reliance on tests.

Under the deal, the SGOs will be count for up to 20 percent of teacher evaluations, compared to 10 percent for measuring student test progress.

But the SGOs have themselves prompted many questions – if not outright grievances – about how they are being carried out. The main complaint is they are being dictated by supervisors, with little input from teachers. The Christie compromise included a new appeals process for teachers who contend they were unfairly evaluated.

Task force to be named: The compromise also included the governor’s appointment of a statewide task force to look at the state’s reliance on testing and its implications for schools, teachers and students. The appointments have yet to be announced.

Not-so-routine code: The balance of the code under review sounds routine, but strong interests are involved and there’s a lot at stake in each.

The special education code always prompts disagreement over details of services that are required — or not.

The board is also expected to move along updated code on teacher evaluations to provide for the new appeals process and other adjustments after the first full year of the system.

And there’s much at stake as the board considers student residency code changes in what proofs and provisions schools require to show where a student lives.

New/old standards: While debate continues over the Common Core State Standards in language arts and math, the state board is moving along in approving a renewal of the state’s standards for other subjects. This month’s meeting will take up the standards for technology and career readiness.

Public testimony: The state board will take testimony in the afternoon on the special education code changes, as well as on new regulations pertaining to a special financing system for schools called Qualified Zone Academy Bonds. The public testimony starts at 2 p.m.