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7-10-14 Evaluations and Testing Remain at Issue...Curriculum Adopted by State Board of Education
NJ Spotlight - State BOE Meeting Mirrors Statehouse Concerns About Teacher Evaluations...Quiet meeting in July listens to more than three-dozen educators concerned about new statewide testing system...'Nonetheless, the administration’s hand may be forced before that, as the meeting was abuzz with speculation as to the different discussions going on. When one board member announced that Van Drew had already agreed to hold his bill, the tenor of the room changed.' But in a telephone interview, Van Drew wasn’t holding his breath as to what comes next. He was hopeful about a compromise, and said the Legislature would come back to act this summer if the administration didn’t. Still, when asked how long this back and forth could go on, he didn’t have a best estimate: “You tell me.”

Star Ledger - NJ State Board of Education adopts new curriculum standards

Star Ledger – Teachers, union reps blast 'flawed' teacher evaluation system

NJ Spotlight - State BOE Meeting Mirrors Statehouse Concerns About Teacher Evaluations

John Mooney | July 10, 2014

Quiet meeting in July listens to more than three-dozen educators concerned about new statewide testing system

 

As the stop-and-start drama continues in the Statehouse, the State Board of Education just a mile away got an earful yesterday about the New Jersey's new teacher evaluation system.

The board ostensibly was hosting public testimony on some nominal changes to administrative code, but from more than three dozen speakers, the prevailing theme was the precarious state of the evaluation system rolled out in earnest this year.

Individual teachers spoke to the challenges of being evaluated by a system in which administrators -- and teachers themselves -- have barely any training.

Advocates from several of the big education groups, including the state’s largest teachers union, once again asked for the state to slow down.

“I ask why the rush to put this process into place, when we don’t even know how many procedural issues there are,” said Wendell Steinhauer, president of the New Jersey Education Association.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing right,” he said. “I look forward to working with the board and the department to make sure we do it right.”

The words may have been prescient, as Statehouse talks -- including those involving the NJEA itself -- continued through yesterday, trying to arrive at a compromise as to how heavily the results of the new nationwide testing would weigh in teacher evaluations.

A bill poised to be acted on by the state Senate today that would delay the impact of the online PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) tests was again tabled late yesterday -- for the third time.

Its chief sponsor said he agreed to hold the bill to give more time for the Christie administration and the Legislature’s Democratic leadership to come up with a deal that would address the heightening concerns, likely with a high-level review of state testing as a whole and a phase-in on the use of the tests.

State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May), the primary sponsor of the Senate bill, said the alternative was passing a bill that would surely be vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie, and unlikely to have enough votes to override.

“There have been fruitful discussions between the Senate majority staff and the administration,” he said late yesterday. “Everyone said that the discussions were moving in the right direction.”

The depth of the problems that have spurred the concerns were apparent at the state board meeting, where a usually sleepy session in July drew dozens of members of the New Jersey Education Association, the teachers union that had made the meeting the subject of one of its “lobby day” campaigns.

Wearing stickers provided by the NJEA that read “Get It Right,” the educators came with a variety of personal anecdotes about the new evaluation system and the testing attached to it.

Angelina Carione, a fifth-grade teacher in the Buena Regional school system, implored board members not to put themselves in teachers’ shoes but that of students, some of whom she said were literally sick or in tears from the pressure of state tests.

‘The demands of this testing culture has robbed students of their love of learning and stolen teachers’ ability to be creative,” she said. “Quickly implemented laws and policies are ruining education for a generation of children.”

Carione described one testing experience faced by her students:

“Sit down, read the fifth-grade [writing test’s] prompt, think of an idea, write a succinct narrative that encompasses all story elements, including character development, setting, plot line, figurative language, dialogue, proper grammar, then revise and edit it -- all in 30 minutes flat.”

Not everyone at the meeting was opposed to the state's current policy. Some advocacy groups pressed the administration not to back off its commitment to the new Common Core State Standards and the PARCC testing that will be aligned with it, starting in 2015.

Janellen Duffy, executive director of NJ CAN, a pro-reform advocacy group co-chaired by former Gov. Thomas Kean, said that the state had shown its ability to be flexible to the challenges of the new testing. She cited how the state had already reduced the weight of testing on teacher evaluations.

“Judging by this track record, it has shown it has the ability to assess the landscape, get feedback from the field, and indeed adjust components of the teacher evaluation system,” she said.

Nonetheless, the administration’s hand may be forced before that, as the meeting was abuzz with speculation as to the different discussions going on. When one board member announced that Van Drew had already agreed to hold his bill, the tenor of the room changed.

But in a telephone interview, Van Drew wasn’t holding his breath as to what comes next. He was hopeful about a compromise, and said the Legislature would come back to act this summer if the administration didn’t.

Still, when asked how long this back and forth could go on, he didn’t have a best estimate: “You tell me.”

 

Star Ledger - NJ State Board of Education adopts new curriculum standards

By Peggy McGlone/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on July 09, 2014 at 1:50 PM, updated July 09, 2014 at 7:33 PM

TRENTON — The New Jersey State Board of Education approved new curriculum standards for seven subject areas and preschool teaching and learning today at its monthly meeting in Trenton.

The board approved new state guidelines for social studies, world languages, visual and performing arts, health and physical education and science. The standards outline the knowledge and skills students should acquire in grades K-12.

In addition, the board reaffirmed its commitment to the Common Core State Standards for language arts and math. These standards, first adopted in 2010, have been adopted by almost 40 states.

Before the vote, Tracey Severns, the education department's chief academic officer, gave an impassioned defense of the standards and the tests that will measure them. The tests, called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers, or PARCC, are computerized tests that will replace the NJASK and the HSPA tests next spring.

Acknowledging that critics are saying “it’s too much, it’s too hard, it’s coming too fast,” Severns said teachers and schools can adapt to the new standards without abandoning the great work they have done previously.

“We can teach for mastery and meaning, we can maintain creativity and teach to the Common Core,” she said. “We need to resist the inclination that it must be one or the other.”

Severns also addressed the importance of the upcoming tests.

"PARCC is (a test) that rewards good instruction, that causes us to focus on teaching for understanding,” she said. “That’s good work and that serves our students and teachers well.”

Both the Common Core and the PARCC have been the subject of criticism across the state, especially because the new and technologically demanding tests will be used to measure teacher effectiveness under the state’s new tenure reform.

Many teachers, administrators and education advocates have sought a delay to such “high stakes” consequences of the PARCC tests because they have not been vetted and require technology that some districts don’t have.

Legislation passed the Assembly last month
that would delay the consequences for up to two years as a task force examines the Common Core, PARCC, the teacher evaluation process and their costs.

Gov. Chris Christie told a town hall audience last month that an announcement about the tests was weeks away, but so far his office has been mum. Acting Commissioner David Hespe did not address the issue during the meeting, and he exited quickly through a side door as soon as the two-hour meeting concluded.

A similar measure, which was not put up for a vote last week, is on the schedule of tomorrow’s Senate session.

The board also voted Mark Biedron as its new president. Biedron is co-founder of The Willow School in Gladstone.

State officials also proposed minor amendments to its special education regulations, all but scrapping a plan introduced last year to ease the bureaucracy in the system. Instead, the state will wait for a legislative task force to submit its report by year’s end.

Of the curriculum standards that were readopted, only the science curriculum guidelines underwent dramatic changes, officials told the board. School districts will have several years to prepare. The new standards must be in place for grades 6-12 by September 2016; grades K-5 have another year.

The board is required by law to review and adopt every five years.

 

Star Ledger Teachers, union reps blast 'flawed' teacher evaluation system

 By Peggy McGlone/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on July 09, 2014 at 5:31 PM

TRENTON — Some 40 teachers, parents, union representatives and other education officials told four members of the New Jersey State Board of Education that the state’s new teacher evaluation system is fundamentally flawed and should be changed or put on hold until it can be fixed.

Identified by their “get it right!” stickers, members of the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union, dominated the speakers testifying at an afternoon hearing that followed Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the state board.

“I stand before you today asking you to change these regulations and delay the use of test scores in this evaluation system going forward,” NJEA president Wendell Steinhauer said. “It is unfair to teachers and students to make high-stakes decisions based on a new test, one that has not had a state-wide field test.”

The testimony followed a meeting highlighted by a presentation from Department of Education Chief Academic Officer Tracey Severns, who defended the state’s push to roll out the new computer-based test to measure student mastery of material as well as to evaluate teacher effectiveness.

But critics maintain the newly launched Common Core curriculum and the computer-based tests that measure student achievement of the material should not be used to evaluate teacher effectiveness, as called for in the state’s tenure reform law.

A bill in the Legislature seeks to create a task force to examine the reforms, and delay for up to two years the use of the tests to measure students and teachers.

All of the NJEA’s top brass addressed the board members, as did a handful of teachers who are members of the union. Gennaro Tortoriello, a special education teacher in Paterson, described the system as both ineffective and corrupt.

He described supervisors who apologized to teachers for poor evaluations, saying they were forced give low ratings because “we are a failing school in a failing district.” He described late evaluation reports and falsified reports.

“This system has created an environment of distrust,” Tortorello said. “The evaluations are used as punishment rather than as an opportunity for growth.”

College of New Jersey student Melissa Katz said the evaluation system unfairly harms teachers who chose to work in low-performing districts.

The system’s reliance on student test scores creates “a disincentive for teachers to teach in schools with large populations of low-income students,” Katz, an urban education major, said. “People who have the power to make change are choosing to … move forward with unproven, untested reforms in the hope that ‘hey, maybe it’ll all work out.’”

 


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828



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