|7-14-15 Education in the News|
NJ Spotlight - Commissioner Shuffles Duties, Positions at State Department of Education…Changes by Hespe stem from shifts in administration’s priorities for last two years of Christie’s tenure
John Mooney | July 14, 2015
Reflecting some internal shifts in priorities and personnel, the Christie administration has shuffled some positions in the state Department of Education, including a key new hire and a tweak in responsibilities.
Education Commissioner David Hespe told the state Board of Education last week that the department had hired a new communications and strategic planning director, expanded the duties of the chief innovations officer, and taken steps to better integrate the department’s vocational-centered offices into the academic track.
Such changes are hardly unusual, but they come at a time when Gov. Chris Christie and his commissioner are entering the final two years of the governor’s tenure in the state while he also launches a campaign for the White House.
Up to now, Hespe has made only nominal changes in the department as it existed under his predecessor, Chris Cerf.
The new communications director is Valerie Francois, formerly of Educational Testing Service (ETS), the Ranney School in Tinton Falls and the Siemens Foundation. She will be in charge of external communications and strategy, with the new title of Director of Media Relations and Strategic Outreach.
Acting Commissioner David Hespe moves to fill several vacancies and adds new position, but refrains from drastic changes
The shift of academic programs assigns a range of new responsibilities to Chief Academic Officer Kimberley Harrington, particularly in the area of career-vocational programs. Hespe said in announcing the changes that these career-focused programs have increasingly become part of statewide standards efforts and should be under the same division.
As part of the moves, the Student Services and Career Readiness division will be renamed the Division of Learning Supports and Specialized Services.
Finally, the reorganization adds duties for Chief Innovations Officer Evo Popoff, who will also oversee the state’s intervention and takeover functions -- a key role in light of the administration’s recent announcement that it was beginning the process of handing back local control of the Newark schools.
Tim Matheny, the state’s previous chief interventions officer, who held the post of teacher-evaluation director before that, has left the education department to take a position at a Philadelphia think-tank, officials said.
Star Ledger - Which schools have the best teachers? N.J. to release evaluation data
TRENTON — For the first time, New Jersey's Department of Education will publish a centralized database with the aggregate teacher evaluation results for each school across the state.
The 2013-14 data, to be released next week, will not include performance ratings for specific teachers. However, parents will be able to see how many teachers in a school received each of the four possible ratings, according to the state.
The online database is an effort to be transparent about the state's findings from the first year of a new teacher evaluation system, said Peter Shulman, chief talent officer for the Department of Education.
However, Shulman stressed that one year of data is not enough to make judgments about overall teacher performance.
"We are not going to jump to any conclusions off the first year," he told the State Board of Education on Wednesday.
Prior to 2013-14, teachers were essentially graded on a thumbs up or thumbs down system, based on a century-old law that required evaluations. Nearly 100 percent of teachers were deemed acceptable. TEST
The new evaluation system, mandated by state legislation, requires more observation from supervisors and uses student performance data to grade teachers.
It places teachers into four different categories: highly effective, effective, partially effective and ineffective.
Teachers that are rated effective or better are considered to be performing well. Those with a partially effective or lower rating will receive additional support and must improve or face the possibility of losing tenure.
More than 97 percent of New Jersey teachers received positive evaluation scores for 2013-14, the state announced in June. But, unlike prior years, the new system creates more distinction between performance levels and allows the state to further analyze the data for useful trends.
For example, teachers in their first or second year were twice as likely to receive a "partially effective" review as more experienced teachers, Shulman said.
Meanwhile, experienced teachers were twice as likely to get the highest rating, he said.
Along with the school data, district-level data will also be published, according to the state. Overall principal performance ratings will be released for districts but not individual schools.
The data is scheduled to be released on July 15, Shulman said.
Garden State Coalition of Schools