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Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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9-21-16 Education in the News

NJ Spotlight--Don't judge N.J. teachers based on standardized test scores, lawmakers say

TRENTON — How students fare on standardized tests would no longer influence how teachers and administrators are evaluated under a bill that cleared an Assembly committee Monday.

The growing emphasis of PARCC, New Jersey's standardized assessment, sparked the bill. Testing affects only 15 percent of teachers, principals and other educators in the state, and up until this year, test results accounted for 10 percent of a teacher's evaluation.

In August, Deputy Education Commissioner Peter Shulman announced the test results would make up 30 percent of an educator's score.

"Using test scores to evaluate teachers puts pressure on teachers to teach to the test, which takes away from invaluable classroom instruction and learning," said Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Bergen), one of the bill's sponsors. "If the end goal is to ensure teachers are indeed reaching their students, then let's use measures that will give us a more accurate glimpse of who is doing a good job, and who is lacking."

Student performance on standardized tests was added as a factor in some teacher evaluations beginning in the 2013-14 school year as part of New Jersey's landmark tenure reform law. 

The weight of student test scores in teacher evaluations was dropped from 30 percent to 10 percent in 2014-15 when New Jersey switched to the new PARCC exams, short for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

New Jersey's statewide scores improved on nearly every exam during the second year of PARCC testing, but the majority of students in grades 4-8 still failed to meet grade level expectations.


Susan K. Livio | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com By Susan K. Livio | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com| September 20, 2016 at 7:55 AM, updated September 20, 2016 at 7:57 AM


Jersey Journal--Developers to build new Jersey City public school

JERSEY CITY — Developers have pledged to build a new public school for Jersey City as part of a $370 million housing development planned for the city's Paulus Hook neighborhood.

The 200-student school, for pre-k, kindergarten and first grade students, will be the second privately funded public school to open in the city in recent years. Today's announcement comes less than two weeks after the public-school district opened its first new public school in a decade, the state-funded School 20 on Ocean Avenue.

The 28,000-student school district faces overcrowding issues that it believes will become more acute as residents flock to the city's new high-rises and families decide to remain city dwellers instead of fleeing for the suburbs. In a statement, Mayor Steve Fulop said initiatives like the new school, planned for Columbus Drive near Washington Street, will help ease those overcrowding issues.

"This project represents an amazing opportunity for Jersey City to be innovative at how we look at both development and creating new school facilities in an urban setting," Fulop said. "What's even better, without spending a dime, we're getting more mixed-income housing, preserving affordable housing, and building a brand-new public school for young children."

The new 35,000-square-foot school and residential tower are planned for 25 Columbus Dr., on an existing parking lot adjacent to the 23-story Paulus Hook Towers. The location is three blocks from the Waterfront.

The developer behind the project is PH Urban Renewal, a joint venture of L+M Development Partners and Low-Income Housing Corporation. Both have offices in New York. L+M is a part owner of Paulus Hook Towers.

The school district has agreed to purchase the new school for one dollar, a deal approved unanimously by the school board in August.

Details of the residential development that would accompany the new school have yet to be revealed. The city Planning Board is expected tonight to approve changes to the Paulus Hook Redevelopment Plan that would allow the developers to build as many as 750 new apartments on the site. Paulus Hook Towers has 308 units.


Terrence T. McDonald | The Jersey Journal By Terrence T. McDonald | The Jersey Journal
September 20, 2016 at 12:56 PM, updated September 20, 2016 at 1:55 PM


The Record--N.J. gets grant to help low-income students afford Advanced Placement tests

New Jersey will get $586,167 in federal funds to expand a program to help students from low-income families to take Advanced Placement tests, it was announced Tuesday.

The grant is one of 42 awarded by the U.S Department of Education totaling $28.4 million. The AP tests allow students to gain college credit for courses taken in high school – a move that helps students finish a degree quicker, thus reducing college costs.

The subsidy should cover all but $15 of the test, according to a press release from the federal education department. Full price is about $90 for AP tests, which are offered in 30 subject areas and administered by the College Board. New Jersey, which has one of the highest AP participation rates, has offered the subsidized tests for a number of years and the state also provides funding to districts to further defray the costs.


By PATRICIA ALEX|STAFF WRITER | The Record| September 21, 2016


NY Times--Connecticut to Appeal Decision in Schools Funding Case

The State of Connecticut said on Thursday that it would appeal a sweeping ruling in a schools funding case that ordered it to re-examine virtually the entire education system.

“There are strong arguments that the trial court exceeded its authority and the standards articulated by the Connecticut Supreme Court, and so today we are asking that court to review this ruling,” Attorney General George C. Jepsen said in a statement.

In the long-running case, Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher of State Superior Court in Hartford found last week that Connecticut was “defaulting on its constitutional duty” to give all children an adequate education because the state was allowing students in poor districts to languish while those in wealthy districts excelled.

Judge Moukawsher gave the state 180 days to revamp teacher evaluations and compensation, school funding policies, special education services and graduation requirements.

The ruling was met with enthusiasm by elected officials in some of the state’s poorer cities, but others, including the state’s teachers’ union, objected. Sheila Cohen, the president of the union, the Connecticut Education Association, in a statement on Thursday called Judge Moukawsher’s decision “broad and overreaching.”




Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608