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1-25-12 Education and Related Issues in the News
Courier Post-Associated Press - Analysis: N.J. educators earn D+… “The analysis considers how teachers are trained, evaluated, rewarded and fired.But it does not assess the overall state of teaching and learning. That’s an area where, on average, New Jersey is among the highest-performing states …“—…“ The group did find a few bright spots in the state, where it said New Jersey has best practices: It found its standards for high school science teachers are high, and the state is good at dismissing teachers who do not meet license requirements.”

NJ Spotlight - Finger-Pointing Precedes Teacher Contract Talks in Newark…With negotiations resuming, union, superintendent at odds over plans for troubled schools

Press of Atlantic City - New Jersey third in student performance, non-profit group says...A national report card on education in America has ranked New Jersey third in the country for student performance and awarded it a B-minus for state education policy.

Courier Post-Associated Press -  Analysis: N.J. educators earn D+… “The analysis considers how teachers are trained, evaluated, rewarded and fired.But it does not assess the overall state of teaching and learning. That’s an area where, on average, New Jersey is among the highest-performing states …“ The group did find a few bright spots in the state, where it said New Jersey has best practices: It found its standards for high school science teachers are high, and the state is good at dismissing teachers who do not meet license requirements.”

Courier Post-Associated Press - Report card ranks state 36th in U.S.

5:30 AM, Jan. 25, 2012 | Written by GEOFF MULVIHILL  Associated Press

 

National Council on Teacher Quality: www.nctq.org

New Jersey’s report card from a group that seeks to improve standards for the nation’s teachers is dismal: D-plus, 36th in the U.S. and making less progress than most states.

The report, scheduled to be published today by the National Council on Teacher Quality, could bolster parts of Gov. Chris Christie’s education overhaul agenda — though his critics say it shouldn’t.

The analysis considers how teachers are trained, evaluated, rewarded and fired.

But it does not assess the overall state of teaching and learning. That’s an area where, on average, New Jersey is among the highest-performing states — despite being home to low-performing schools, particularly in its most impoverished cities like Camden.

Some of the areas Christie wants to fix are the same ones the Washington-based research and policy group says are broken.

“What the governor has proposed with evaluation and tenure would put New Jersey among the trailblazer states,” said Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the teacher quality organization.

New Jersey’s grade barely budged from the “D” it received from the council two years ago.

Florida, a state where standardized test scores are far short of New Jersey’s, received the highest mark this year — and it got just a “B.”

Jacobs said several states are revising — or like New Jersey, considering changing — how teachers are evaluated and granted tenure, upending longstanding job-security provisions for educators. But Jacobs said few states have made much progress on raising requirements for college and university teacher education programs.

Finding ways to make teachers more accountable for how well students perform has been a major trend in education policy debates over the last few years in Washington and in many states, including New Jersey.

Christie wants half of teacher evaluations based on measures of student performance — including standardized tests and other measures that districts can choose.

He also wants those evaluations to have consequences, including merit-based pay raises for top teachers and loss of tenure job protections for those who repeatedly get low marks.

The governor also wants districts to be able to get rid of low-performing teachers, rather than the last ones hired, in the event of layoffs.

Critics, including the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, say that while it might make sense to link teacher evaluations to student performance, some of the methods Christie is pushing are unproven and could be unfair.

The NJEA has proposed its own tenure system changes while indicating there’s room to compromise with the governor on teacher evaluations.

Steve Baker, a NJEA spokesman who has not seen the NCTQ report, questioned conclusions that could be drawn from it.

“The system that New Jersey has in place has led to a teacher work force that has accomplished some of the highest student achievement in the nation,” Baker said Tuesday.

“To say that our system is failing flies in the face of the results our schools are achieving.”

The teacher quality group generally supports the same changes Christie wants.

And Jacobs said she waited to finalize the state’s grade because it appeared some changes that could raise the state’s marks could be forthcoming.

The group gave the state no better than a middling grade in each of the main areas covered in the report: Delivering well-prepared teachers, D-plus; expanding the teacher pool, C; identifying effective teachers, D-plus; retaining effective teachers, C-minus; exiting ineffective teachers, D.

The report on New Jersey is 166 pages long and it evaluates whether the state has implemented a litany of specific policy recommendations. Many of the recommendations would likely face some political opposition if they were proposed in New Jersey.

The group did find a few bright spots in the state, where it said New Jersey has best practices: It found its standards for high school science teachers are high, and the state is good at dismissing teachers who do not meet license requirements.

 

 

 

NJ Spotlight - Finger-Pointing Precedes Teacher Contract Talks in Newark…With negotiations resuming, union, superintendent at odds over plans for troubled schools

By John Mooney, January 25, 2012 in Education|1 Comment

The last time negotiators for the state-run Newark Public Schools met with the district’s teachers union, the $100 million Facebook gift was not yet national headlines and Superintendent Cami Anderson was still an administrator in New York City schools.

And it didn’t go well, either, ending with contract talks at an impasse ever since.

On Thursday, the two sides are set to sit down again at the offices of the Newark Teachers Union, seeking to jumpstart talks on the contract. They’re not starting particularly smoothly, either, with Anderson and the 5,000-member union continuing to be at odds over her plans for the district.

The latest source of tension was an anonymous staff survey the district proposed to send out to teachers to measure how they are feeling about their work conditions, their schools, their professional development, and a host of other subjects about their jobs.

This week, the teachers union’s leaders instructed their members not to participate, as did the district’s principals union, saying the survey could be slanted and misused and failed to include the union’s suggestions.

They also pointed out that the survey would be conducted by the New Teachers Project, a Brooklyn-based group first led by Michelle Rhee, the controversial former Washington D.C. chancellor.

“It’s an anti-union group that was not serving the purpose of a real survey but of union and teacher bashing,” said Joseph Del Grosso, the NTU’s longtime president.

The union’s decision set off Anderson, who responded in a letter to the district’s principals that Del Grosso and union leaders were included in the development of the survey. Anderson said she found it “unfortunate –- and surprising” that they were blocking what she saw as its valid use.

“We expect students to produce evidence of their learning,” Anderson said in the weekly letter to principals sent today. ”The best evidence of our ability to support teachers is teachers’ feedback on what they think and feel.”

Her spokeswoman last night maintained that New Teachers Project, known as TNTP, was not anti-union, nor was the survey. The survey questions ran the gamut, from what teachers thought of their evaluations to how long they expected to stay in teaching.

“This is not about TNTP; it’s a survey,” said Renee Harper, a district spokeswoman.

At least one prominent principal said he believed the survey would be a good tool, even if his union didn’t. “I support any initiative that will allow the school to gather data that will help us improve,” said Marlo Santos, principal of East Side High School in the Ironbound. “It is honest feedback, there should be nothing to hide.”

None of this bodes well for the talks that will begin tomorrow on the labor contract that most agreed will be central to many of the reform efforts that Anderson, not to mention Gov. Chris Christie, have trumpeted for the district.

They have ranged from extended instructional time to better evaluations and assignments systems to plans for revamping whole schools. Also, of course, will be negotiations over salaries and benefits for teachers in one of the better-paying districts in the state.

As such, the two sides have also clashed recently over Newark’s involvement in Christie’s pilot effort to test a new statewide teacher evaluation system. None of the district’s 80 schools were able to gain a majority of their teachers’ support to participate, leaving the pilot in just a small handful of schools.

Del Grosso said yesterday that he did not think these day-to-day disagreements would directly affect the contract talks, although he did not have high hopes that the impasse would be broken anytime soon. The talks already include a state mediator, and Del Grosso predicted they would soon enter a fact-finder stage.

But he also didn’t believe these clashes would much help, either. “My members ask me why they have time for these surveys and not enough time to negotiate our contract,” he said.

 

Press of Atlantic City - New Jersey third in student performance, non-profit group says...A national report card on education in America has ranked New Jersey third in the country for student performance and awarded it a B-minus for state education policy.

By DIANE D'AMICO Education WriterpressofAtlanticCity.com | Jan 25 20120 comments

A national report card on education in America has ranked New Jersey third in the country for student performance and awarded it a B-minus for state education policy.

But the state received mostly D's for teacher-quality issues, leading the state's largest teachers union to question the validity of the report and its criteria.

The nonprofit American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, released its 17th Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress and Reform on Tuesday. The politically conservative group bases its education policy grade on such criteria as state academic standards, access to public and private school choice and home schooling, and high-quality teachers.

New Jersey moved from 10th place to third in student performance based on the 2011 scores for low-income students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, given to fourth- and eighth-graders. Massachusetts and Vermont were the top two states based on student performance, and both also scored poorly on teacher quality.

New Jersey improved from a C to a B- in education policy, largely due to improved state academic standards. The state has agreed to use new national Common Core Standards. The state's charter school law earned a C, and there have been legislative efforts to modify New Jersey's law.

New Jersey gets an A for home school regulations, because the state has none. Parents who choose to teach their children at home are not required to follow any state guidelines or curriculum.

The state gets its lowest marks in teacher-quality areas, including a D for delivering well-prepared teachers, a D+ for identifying effective teachers and a D+ for removing ineffective teachers.

David Myslinski, director of the Education Task Force for ALEC, said the teacher rankings are based on the National Council on Teacher Quality's report, which gave New Jersey a D+ in 2009 and is scheduled to release its new rankings Thursday. He said they also look at how American schools rank internationally, so even states that score well in student improvement nationally have room for improvement on a global scale.

"We want to make sure all students are taught by a high-quality teacher," he said.

But Steve Baker, spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association, said states in which students are performing well should be held up as models rather than criticized for political gain.

"If we are third in student performance, it calls into question the quality of the criteria they are using to judge teacher quality," Baker said.

Contact Diane D'Amico:

609-272-7241

DDamico@pressofac.com


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



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