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12- 3-13 Education in the News
Star Ledger - State to approve 3 vendors for new high school equivalency exam

NJ Spotlight – Agenda: State Board of Education Takes up Graduation Rates, GED…State board president remarks that Christie administration not giving board much to do lately

NJ Spotlight -More Renaissance Schools for State-Controlled Camden District?...Camden issues RFP for up to three more ‘renaissance schools,’ even though its first is still to open

The Republic – NJ Gov. Christie lays out objections to bill granting in-state tuition to immigration students

Star Ledger - State to approve 3 vendors for new high school equivalency exam

 Peggy McGlone/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger on December 03, 2013 at 6:15 AM, updated December 03, 2013 at 6:24 AM



New Jersey officials will allow individuals pursing a high school equivalency diploma to take one of three different tests on a computer or with pencil and paper.

Members of the state Board of Education are expected to approve new regulations Wednesday that will authorize three vendors to provide tests to replace the familiar GED, the national exam that will be phased out at the end of this month.

Pearson Vue, Educational Testing Service and McGraw-Hill were selected by the state to provide both computerized and written exams, assistant state commissioner Peter Shulman told the board last month, when the board reviewed the new regulations.

State officials determined that offering choices will improve access and affordability, Shulman said.

"We want to get it right by providing more options," Shulman said. "More variations will lower the price from where it was going."

Shulman said there are about 1 million New Jersey residents without a high school diploma, and he said officials hope more options will "attract more candidates" to take the exam.

About 13,700 New Jerseyans took the high school equivalency test last year, with about 9,000 passing, state officials report. This year, the number jumped to 13,600 through October, and officials expect the annual total to top 16,300.

The new tests are expected to cost about $112, a steep increase from the current $50 fee. Shulman said state officials hope the competition that will result because of the three vendors will help keep costs in line.

While the state will regulate the price, the individual test centers will determine the version and format of tests they will administer.

The updated test, which will be aligned to the Common Core State Standards being introduced in schools, will feature four sections: language arts, social studies, science and math. The writing component, which was its own section, will be incorporated into the other sections.

The new test will also feature two levels, said Nancy O’Shea, the manager of testing services at Brookdale Community College. One score will result in a high school diploma, and a higher score will speak to career and college readiness.

The switch from the current GED to the new one has caused a surge in test-takers at the 28 testing sites around the state. Those who completed at least one part of the five-section test have tried to finish so they do not have to start over, while others tried to complete the version that they had studied for.

The introduction of the new test will probably result in a delay early next year, as the state’s 34 test centers adapt to the changes. Several test centers have phone and web messages alerting students to contact them next month for updates. The Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne will not disclose information on the next test until after Jan. 13, according to its website.

Brookdale Community College in Middletown will offer the Pearson Vue tests at the start of the year, said O’Shea.

Brookdale piloted the new Pearson Vue computerized test this year, and will continue to offer it, she said.

"We anticipate we will just keep rolling right through," O’Shea said, noting that the center will probably introduce another version in February or March.

O’Shea said the computer test allows students to obtain their results immediately, a real plus.

"We had a student dancing, literally dancing this morning when she learned she passed all five parts," she said.

O’Shea said the price hike is a concern, and the reason why her center will look to offer another option. A paper and pencil version will be offered, too.

"Many people who are taking the GED are not comfortable using a computer. We do everything we can to relieve their anxiety," she said. "We want to give it in the method that works best for them, and that’s why I would like to continue to do a paper and pencil group test."

NJ SpotlightAgenda: State Board of Education Takes up Graduation Rates, GED…State board president remarks that Christie administration not giving board much to do lately

John Mooney | December 3, 2013



Date: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Time: 10 a.m.

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

What they are doing: The State Board of Education agenda is a light one, with a presentation on graduation rates and a vote on the new high school equivalency program among the highlights. There also could be some discussion about teacher evaluation, an evergreen topic these days. But the board has little administrative code or regulation on its docket, and no public testimony.

What they are not doing: The board’s president, Arcelio Aponte, said the board has been getting less to do of late, with the Christie administration and its state Department of Education holding back for now on further regulatory matters. That has left the board mostly hearing and reacting to administration presentations. In October, there was virtually no new business on the agenda, and last month’s meeting was mostly a long presentation.

Quote of frustration: “I was hoping to have more items [on the December agenda],” Aponte said yesterday. “Whatever the reasons between the department and the governor’s office, things are not moving as much as I had hoped." “If we are not going to have more before us,” Aponte added at another point, “we might as well not have the meetings.”

From the administration: Even if it doesn’t have much say at this point, the board will hear from state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf and his top staff about a few key issues. State Assistant Commissioner Bari Erlichson is slated to make a presentation about the state’s high school graduation report on the class of 2013, reflecting a key topic of late with the state ending its current graduation requirements and considering new ones.

Teacher evaluation: The administration is also slated to present the latest word on the state’s teacher evaluation system, as it was tested in 25 pilot districts and reviewed by the Evaluation Pilot Advisory Committee (EPAC), a statewide panel of educators and experts. The final EPAC report comes out as the board has heard plenty of concerns from districts and educators about the speed of implementation statewide, but Aponte doesn’t expect the schedule for the rollout to change much. “Unless there is something we haven’t seen yet, I don’t see anything leading us not to support the current plans,” he said.

High school equivalency: The board is expected to take its final vote on a resolution to set in motion a replacement to the current GED program for New Jersey adults earning their diplomas after high school age. The GED program is being overhauled in states across the country, and New Jersey has proposed that there be the option of three different vendors to provide the equivalency test to adults.


NJ Spotlight -More Renaissance Schools for State-Controlled Camden District?...Camden issues RFP for up to three more ‘renaissance schools,’ even though its first is still to open

John Mooney | December 3, 2013



Camden Schools Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard

Still waiting for its first “renaissance school” to open, the state-run Camden district is hoping to encourage more of this new breed of charters to move into the city.

Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard yesterday announced that the district had put out a request for proposals (RFP) for up to three additional renaissance projects.

Renaissance schools are a variation on conventional charters. Like their more common counterparts they are operated by independent charter organizations. But they are financed differently and follow different rules, including the requirement that the local district must approve them.

Authorized under the 2011 Urban Hope Act, the state’s first and only renaissance school -- run in partnership between the KIPP charter school network, Cooper Health, and South Jersey businessman and political leader George Norcross -- is slated to open in Camden in 2014.

That project is still a work in progress, with hopes all but dashed for a new building to be ready in downtown Lanning Square by next September and instead temporary quarters planned for the first year.

The district’s recent RFP is one of its first major initiatives since Gov. Chris Christie announced the state’s takeover this past spring.

The RFP is also on deadIine, since the Urban Hope Act requires that the pilot districts have proposals in the works by February 2014. Camden is the only one of three districts covered by the act -- the other two Newark and Trenton -- that has even sought proposals at this point.

Rouhanifard said he saw the process as a chance to weigh a range of proposals for the district, and he had no preconceived notions as to who would be approved or how many projects would result.

“We are not going into this with a number in mind,” he said in an interview yesterday. “We want the opportunity to explore the options, and we suspect there will be some interest.”

The KIPP-Cooper-Norcross project was one of four plans proposed in the first round of applicants last year; the others came from inside and outside of New Jersey.

Another possible player is the Mastery school network of Philadelphia, which has long sought to come into the district and has a separate charter school application before the state.

Rouhanifard said the RFP is seeking organizations with a “proven track record” and also the capacity to scale up quickly. He said the district would be amenable to having the new schools on track to open as soon as the fall of 2014.

The new KIPP-Cooper-Norcross Academy in Lanning Square, one of up to five schools that the project would lead to, was slated to open in a new building in September. But the head of the KIPP team in New Jersey yesterday said that was all but certain not to happen, with design and construction bids still out.

Questions about how the project would be financed and how its space allotted slowed the construction process, said Ryan Hill, president of the TEAM charter school network, KIPP’s New Jersey organization that would lead the new school.

He said instead there would likely be temporary space erected on the site for next fall, as construction is completed. His organization will start information sessions for prospective students in the next month or two.

Hill said the ultimate plan calls for a 1,100-student school would still be realized, and that it would follow closely the design for the site that was pledged by the state almost a decade ago but then stalled under the Schools Development Authority.

“The idea is still to build the school long promised for the district and never delivered,” he said.


The Republic – NJ Gov. Christie lays out objections to bill granting in-state tuition to immigration students

by Angela Delli Santi Associated Press, December 02, 2013 - 5:37 pm EST

TRENTON, New Jersey — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spelled out his objections to an immigrant tuition bill making its way through the state Legislature for the first time Monday, when he reiterated his refusal to sign the proposal in its current form.

At his first Statehouse news conference since winning re-election with 50 percent of the Hispanic vote, Christie said he opposes a provision in the bill that allows students in the United States illegally to have access to tuition aid grants.

Christie also wants to have language changed that would allow students from out of state to qualify for in-state tuition after graduating from a boarding school or private school in New Jersey.

Finally, he wants to limit eligibility to students who were in the United States as of last year, as President Barack Obama has done in an executive order on in-state tuition.

"Those are the major concerns I have," Christie said. "Each one of these things makes us an outlier, even with states that permit in-state tuition for undocumented students. And, it will make us a magnet for folks to come here to get these additional benefits."

"If they sent me a clean tuition equality bill, I would sign it," he added.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat who has worked with Christie in the past, said the governor would get the bill "as is."

He said Christie did not express concerns about the bill until after it passed out of the Senate Budget Committee in June. The bill has not changed since then, said.

"He supported it when he was running for governor. Unfortunately now that he's running for president, he doesn't support it," Sweeney said. Christie is often mentioned as a possible contender for a presidential run in 2016.

"We didn't do a bait and switch," he added. "We didn't play games with it."

Christie thrilled the Hispanic community in October by announcing his support for in-state tuition legislation while courting minority voters for his re-election. But after winning a second term in a landslide last month, the Republican governor began expressing concerns about the bill the Senate had passed.

Minority voters support the tuition equity bill by wide margins, while conservative voters strongly oppose it. Support from Hispanics could greatly enhance Christie viability as a candidate should he seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. But, he also would need voters from conservatives in early primary states.

Christie first said he would not sign the Senate bill on a radio call-in program last week, then signaled hope that the Assembly would amend its bill during the lame-duck session to address his concerns.

Assembly sponsor Gordon Johnson said he was considering an amendment to add financial eligibility that would match the Senate bill, as well as another amendment to protect the value of tuition grants.

Students living in the United States illegally are entitled under federal law to the same K-12 education as legal residents. At least a dozen states also allow these students to pay the cheaper in-state rate for tuition at state colleges and universities.



Garden State Coalition of Schools
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