Agenda: Teacher Evaluation Revisions Up for First Review

John Mooney | May 4, 2016 | Education
Protests expected over graduation requirements, while state board likely signs off on Common Core replacement

Date: Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Time: 10 a.m.

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

Teacher evaluation tops list of big topics: The Board of Education will get an opening look at the first significant revisions to the regulations governing the state’s TEACH NJ law that reformed teacher tenure and evaluation. It will be the one new item for consideration on a day otherwise busy with some familiar topics, including proposed high-school graduation requirements and the replacement of the Common Core State Standards. Public testimony in the afternoon is expected to be dominated by critics of the graduation proposal.

TEACH NJ proposal: The Christie administration has proposed an assortment of changes to the teacher evaluation regulations that are aimed at streamlining the process that teachers and supervisors must follow. Many are technical and center on the evaluation process, but are key to carrying out the law that put in place a statewide standard for evaluating teachers. For instance, one change would remove the requirement for both short and long classroom observations and instead require all evaluations be a minimum of 20 minutes. Others seek to simplify the process for developing and evaluating a teacher’s “student growth objectives.”

Graduation tests: The proposed graduation requirements are not actually on the board’s agenda for action, but they are sure to generate considerable testimony in the afternoon public hearing. The New Jersey Education Association and Save Our Schools NJ are planning a press conference before the public testimony, and the concerns related to requiring students pass the PARCC tests to graduate are hardly dissipating. Starting with the Class of 2021, the proposal calls for students that year to have passed at least the new PARCC language arts test for 10th graders and the Algebra I math test. The board has given the proposal its preliminary approval, with a final action slated for August.

Common Core no more: Gov. Chris Christie’s disavowal of the Common Core State Standards a year ago was big news, but what is replacing them has ended up being a bit anticlimactic. The state board will act on a resolution approving revisions to the standards for language arts and math, including renaming them the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. Recommended by a series of working groups over the past year, the changes are largely in wording and emphasis.

More anti-bullying: Proposed revisions to the state’s anti-bullying regulations will get a second discussion before the board. The proposal calls for some streamlining and clarifying of the process for investigating and judging incidents, including new flexibility for administrators as to whether to launch bullying investigations in the first place. There is expected to be public testimony on the proposed revisions as well.