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Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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11-7-14 Education Issues in the News

Education Week -  Teachers a Key Source of Common-Core Curricula, Study Finds

By Catherine Gewertz on October 30, 2014 7:02 AM

As schools and districts struggle to find good-quality curriculum aligned to the common core, they're turning most often to their own teachers for those instructional materials, a new survey shows.

A report released Thursday by the Center on Education Policy provides one of the first early glimpses of how districts are solving one of the most difficult problems of putting the Common Core State Standards into practice. Overwhelmingly, they're creating their curricula locally.

More than two-thirds of districts reported that their teachers are designing common-core curricula, and half said that the district is creating it.

Education Post - New Jersey Website and Videos Explain Common Core

By J. Gordon Wright | November 3, 2014

A well-designed new website will help New Jersey parents understand what the Common Core State Standards are and how the state is going to roll them out.

JerseyCAN launched the site with video interviews of teachers and principals supporting the state’s move to higher standards and explaining how the Common Core will help improve teaching and learning in their schools.

More than 40 states around the country have been working for several years to roll out Common Core. However, many of these efforts have been largely behind the scenes in the work of district-level administrators and teacher professional development sessions.

As students continue to see more and more of their schoolwork and tests reflect the Common Core, we need more websites like this to inform parents of the challenging and meaningful work our educators are doing to establish and teach to these standards.

More than 40 states around the country have been working for several years to roll out Common Core. However, many of these efforts have been largely behind the scenes in the work of district-level administrators and teacher professional development sessions.

As students continue to see more and more of their schoolwork and tests reflect the Common Core, we need more websites like this to inform parents of the challenging and meaningful work our educators are doing to establish and teach to these standards.

 

Press of Atlantic City - The focus is on testing as teachers meet in A.C.

By DIANE D’AMICO Education Writer | Posted: Thursday, November 6, 2014 6:40 pm

 

NJEA Convention

The New Jersey Education Association annual convention at the Atlantic City Convention Center, in Atlantic City, NJ, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014.

ATLANTIC CITY — “TESTS don’t teach” say the buttons worn by thousands of teachers attending the New Jersey Education Association convention at the Atlantic City Convention Center Thursday and today.

But teachers will be testing in 2015, as the new state PARCC exams are given for the first time in 2014.

PARCC anxiety was out in full force at the convention, where some teachers got locked out of packed workshops on how to teach the Common Core State Standards and prepare for the new tests.

“I never thought people would get turned away from a workshop on teaching vocabulary,” said Jeanne Clements, founder and president of the Association of Language Arts Teachers of New Jersey, who presented the workshop and staffed a booth at the conference.“Teachers are hungry for information.”

The conference opened a day after the state Department of Education released the results of the 2014 NJASK and HSPA tests, which are being replaced by the PARCC, or Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.The 2014 test results show little change from the past few years, with about 66 percent of elementary and middle school students passing the NJASK test in language arts, and 75 percent passing math.

Results of the High School Proficiency Assessment were better, with 93 percent passing the language arts test and 85 percent passing the math.

NJEA spokesman Steve Baker said while they don’t oppose testing, it’s just one way to assess students, and while the state is preparing for a new, reportedly tougher test, the bigger question really should be what is happening with the other almost 35 percent of students who are still not passing the NJASK.

“What we really need to find out is what those students need,” he said.

Many teachers attending the conference were reluctant to be quoted, saying they or their district are not ready for the tests. Some pilot testing was done last year, with students taking sample portions of the tests, and the expectation that they will be taken on computer has added to the stress. Teachers expressed concerns about the ability of their technology and broadband service to handle the test, and whether students are really prepared to take a complete state test on a computer.

Elizabeth Carroll, a technology and after-school program teacher at the Buckshutem Road School in Bridgeton, stopped by the IXL Learning booth to talk to representatives about their online math program. She already uses it to supplement what teachers are doing in the classrooms.

“The students love working on the computers, and the teachers can go in and look at what the students are doing. It’s helping get them prepared for the PARCC,” she said.

The William H. Sadlier publishing company had racks of workbooks specifically marketed to the Common Core and New Jersey.

“We have digital books, physical books and online assessments,” said Sadlier representative Mary Palladino. “Districts are looking to give students more experience with online testing.”

The New Jersey BadAss Teachers Association, or NJ BATS, is part of a national movement to de-emphasize standardized tests and re-focus on teaching and children. Teachers have been especially opposed to having the new, unproven PARCC tests linked to their evaluations and, ultimately, their jobs.

Melissa Tomlinson, a teacher at Buena Regional Middle School and assistant general manager of NJ BATS, said they are trying move the discussion away from criticizing public education and teachers, and toward the positive things that are being done to help children.

“We want to change the conversation,” she said. “There are alternative assessments. We want to focus on what’s good in the schools.”

Contact Diane D’Amico:

609-272-7241DDamico@pressofac.com@ACPressDamico on Twitter

NJ Spotlight - Votes Show School Districts Reluctant to Approve Spending Above Tax Caps

John Mooney | November 7, 2014

Funding for construction projects fares better, school board races continue to be lightly contested

 

While not capturing the attention of congressional elections, more than 500 school districts also saw voters go to the polls on Tuesday, including more than a dozen with additional spending on the ballot.

And although it hardly qualifies as a statewide referendum, the results of the spending votes were a mixed bag. The vast majority seeking additional spending above the tax cap were rejected, while voters were more supportive of separate construction projects.

The rest were voting on their school boards. Races continued to be lightly contested, with barely four candidates running for every three open seats.

The head of the NJ School Boards Association, which compiled the results, said it was difficult to read too much of a statewide message into the spending votes this fall.

“Each of these questions are individual, put forth by different communities, so it is difficult to cast a net for an overall explanation of why any would be approved or defeated,” said Lawrence Feinsod, the NJSBA’s executive director.

“The boards put forth the proposals that they determined are in the best interest of children,” he said. “We are delighted that all five construction proposals in the state were approved. That will have a dramatically positive impact on students.”

In all, 11 districts went to the voters to ask for specific spending above the 2 percent cap, the only way that the public votes on the school budget since elections were moved to November.

Most were for fairly standard items -- both instructional and extracurricular -- that have proved harder to fund after the state’s steep aid cuts in 2010 and the ensuing tax cap.

Eight of those were rejected, including two in Andover that would have added a guidance counselor and elementary school teacher, as well as security devices at the outside doors to its schools.

Lopatcong was rejected on its bid to expand its kindergarten to full day, and the priciest proposal rejected was more than $1 million for Manalapan-Englishtown’s purchase of 10 new school buses.

Of the three approved, the largest -- $360,000 -- was in Neptune City to fund field trips, extracurricular activities and athletics, as well as restore full-time Spanish instruction.

Separate school construction referendums fared better, with all five on the ballot approved.

Included were two large ones in Salem County, including $20.1 million in renovations and improvements to five schools in Penns Grove-Carneys Point Regional, and $19.8 million for renovations to two schools in the Woodstown-Pilesgrove Regional district.

The school construction approvals continue a good run for districts, following 17 of 21 proposals winning approval in October votes.

Two other ballot questions were not for specific funding, but addressed governance.

In Lower Cape May Regional School district, voters rejected a bid to change the funding formula from one based on property tax valuation to one based solely on student enrollment.

In Hudson County, Bayonne voters approved changing the local school board from an appointed membership to an elected one.

 


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



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