Agenda: Board’s August Meeting Hardly Suffers from Late-Summer Doldrums

John Mooney | August 4, 2015 | Education
New superintendent in Newark, teacher evaluations and anti-bullying policies among items to be addressed

state seal
Date:* Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015

Time: 10 a.m.

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

What they are doing: Usually the board’s sleepiest session of the year, this year’s August meeting will include presentations on several big issues facing the state, including the Newark superintendent switch, teacher evaluations, the replacement of the Common Core State Standards, and anti-bullying measures. The board will also take up three important pieces of code, including hearing public testimony on teacher credentials and support.

Newark update: A month after narrowly approving former state education commissioner Chris Cerf to become the new Newark school superintendent, the board will get its first update from Cerf to how the transition is going. So far, Cerf has been publicly quiet about his plans, so the meeting could be the first public discussion of the fate of such initiatives as One Newark, among other topics.

Teacher evaluation update: The meeting is the first since the Christie administration released teacher-evaluation results for every school in the state. The administration did preview the results at the last meeting, and there is more to come as another school year begins under the state’s new rules.

Public testimony: The board will hold its final public hearing on new code that would rework how teachers are credentialed, including how much student teaching will be required and new standards for the state’s “alternate route” process.

Common Core drama continues: Another month, another update on how the state is dealing with Gov. Chris Christie’s about-face on the Common Core State Standards. The education department is in the midst of forming various committees to review the existing standards for language arts and math. The governor has instructed the department to come up with recommendations for new standards by the end of the year.

Equality and equity code: The meeting will mark the reappearance of new code that dictates how schools make sure students of all races and needs receive an equitable education. A product of a time when the state was more aggressive in insuring desegregation and enforcing other measures, the code was in jeopardy when the Christie administration proposed in 2013 to eliminate what it called its onerous red tape and instead embed its requirements elsewhere in state regulations. But the administration withdrew that proposal in the face of criticism, and the code proposed on Wednesday would keep it intact and is largely an update of procedural requirements, officials said.