Agenda: State Board of Education Takes Up Teacher Preparation and Support

John Mooney | March 3, 2015 | Education
Other topics to be tackled include criteria for linking student performance to teacher evaluations

state seal
Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Time: 10 a.m.
Where: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st-floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton

What they are doing: The State Board will delve into a voluminous package of changes being proposed by the Christie administration regarding how future teachers are prepared in colleges and universities and how they are supported once they are hired. Public testimony is scheduled.

In addition, the board will hear a presentation on the state’s policies on linking student performance scores to individual teachers through what are called “student growth percentiles” (SGP).

What’s not on the agenda: Despite all the public attention being paid to the statewide PARCC testing, which starts this week, the board does not have a specific time slot set aside for discussion of the much-debated exams. Still, with top state education officials in the room, the board’s president thinks the topic is sure to come up.

“There may be some questions, but no formal discussion is scheduled,” said Mark Biedron, the board’s president. “We’re now at wait-and-see.”

Teacher preparation: The administration’s package is complicated enough as it is, with hundreds of pages in code changes covering everything from the classroom hours required for student teachers to the components of the state’s popular “alternate route” process. The proposals were unveiled at the last board meeting, and members have started to get feedback on different parts of the plan, including some resistance.

Public testimony: The public hearing part of the meeting starts at 2 p.m., with about 20 people signed up to testify.

SGPs explained: The board invited the administration to give a presentation on the use of the SGPs in teacher evaluation, a topic at the heart of protests over the new PARCC testing and its impact on teacher evaluation.

“I think there is a lot of misinformation about SGPs and how they are calculated,” Biedron said. “I’m not so sure myself, and that’s why we’ve asked them to come before us.”

Assistant education commissioners Bari Erlichson and Peter Shulman will make the presentation.

Other topics: The board will see a video presentation on the state’s anti-bullying law, part of a new public campaign by the Christie administration.

The board will also hold its final vote on a proposal for “Qualified Zone Academy Bonds,” a financing program designed specifically for charter schools.