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9-30-11 Education Issues in recent News
Star Ledger - N.J. ranks 46th nationally for participation in the National School Breakfast Program

Department of Education Announces Members of Statewide Advisory Committee to Guide Teacher Evaluation Pilot Program


Department of Education Announces Members of Statewide Advisory Committee to Guide Teacher Evaluation Pilot Program

Stakeholders will meet throughout the year to advise the Department and make recommendations on new statewide evaluation system

For Immediate Release

Contact: Justin Barra
Allison Kobus

Date: September 23, 2011


Trenton, NJ – Furthering its commitment to partnering with educators in the development of a new statewide teacher evaluation system, the Department of Education today announced 21 members of the Evaluation Pilot Advisory Committee (EPAC) that will advise the department on the teacher evaluation pilot program over the course of the 2011-12 school year. Composed of education stakeholders from across the state, the EPAC will be responsible for providing guidance throughout the pilot. The group will also produce a recommendation for statewide rollout of a new teacher evaluation system. Additional EPAC members representing all participating pilot districts and persistently low performing districts that have received federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds to implement change, will be added to the committee in the coming weeks.

Earlier this month, the department announced the 10 districts selected to participate in the Excellent Educators for New Jersey (EE4NJ) teacher evaluation pilot program over the course of the 2011-12 school year, pending final review procedures. The pilot districts were selected from among 31 applicants and will split $1.1 million in grant funds made available by the state. An eleventh district, Newark, will participate in the pilot through a separate grant. School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools and districts will also take part in the program with their federal funds. Pilot districts will help to shape the new system, providing critical input and feedback prior to statewide roll-out.

"This pilot is an opportunity to work with educators across the state to develop a fair and meaningful evaluation system that will treat teachers like the professionals they are. And, the voice of educators is a crucial component in this development," Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf said. "The Evaluation Pilot Advisory Committee is another opportunity to ensure that we are working with educators from across the state as we create a better system."

The EPAC represents teachers of various subjects and grade levels; principals, superintendents, a special education supervisor and other administrators; parents; private, charter, and vocational schools; and the higher education community. In addition, the EPAC will include one representative of each district participating in the pilot. The NJDOE solicited nominations for EPAC members from major stakeholder groups, and selected a group of members representing a diverse cross-section of the New Jersey education landscape. EPAC meetings will be held monthly at the NJDOE in Trenton, with the first meeting held today.

The following education professionals and other stakeholder groups are represented on the EPAC:

  • Teachers (5)
  • Superintendents (2)
  • Principals (3)
  • Central office/SIG (2)
  • Special Education Supervisor (1)
  • Higher education (2)
  • School boards (1)
  • State board (1)
  • Vocational schools (1)
  • Parents (1)
  • Non-public schools (1)
  • Charter schools (1)

At the local level, each district will convene a District Evaluation Pilot Advisory Committee (DEPAC). These committees will consist of district educators and other individuals representing important stakeholders in the evaluation system and school community. Each DEPAC must appoint one of these members to also serve on the state EPAC and attend monthly meetings at the NJDOE. In addition, SIG districts will also send representatives to participate in the EPAC. This will ensure that district-level concerns are raised with the state group and that districts will receive information shared at the state-level meetings.

"Because teaching is an honored craft, we must ensure that we recognize and respect effective educators, support teachers in their efforts to continue to develop their skills, and ensure that those comparatively few individuals who are unable to improve no longer remain in the classroom," said Acting Commissioner Cerf. "This advisory committee will help to ensure that we fulfill this promise as we work to develop a new statewide evaluation system."

A full list of EPAC members is below:

Ms. Marie Bilik
Executive Director, New Jersey School Boards Association

Mr. Carl Blanchard
National Board Certified Teacher
Biology Teacher, Franklin High School

Ms. Jeanne Delcolle
Burlington County Teacher of the Year
History Teacher, Burlington County Institute of Technology

Ms. Patricia Donaghue
Parent, Toms River, NJ

Ms. Carol Everett
Executive Director, New Jersey Association of Independent Schools

Dr. Dorothy Feola
President, New Jersey Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; Associate Dean, College of Education, William Paterson University

Ms. Darleen Gearhart
Director, School Improvement Grants, Newark Public Schools

Mr. Timothy Matheny
Principal, South Brunswick High School

Ms. Eileen Matus
Retired Principal, Toms River Regional School District

Ms. Elizabeth Morgan
National Board Certified Teacher
English Language Arts Teacher, Ann A. Mullen Middle School

Dr. Brian Osbourne
Superintendent, South Orange-Maplewood Schools

Mr. Richard Panicucci
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum - Vo-Tech, Bergen County Technical Schools/Special Services

Ms. Meredith Pennotti
Principal, Red Bank Charter School

Ms. Judith Rattner
Superintendent, Berkeley Heights Public Schools

Dr. Vivian Rodriguez
Assistant Superintendent, Perth Amboy School District

Dr. Sharon Sherman
Dean, School of Education, Rider University

Ms. Peggy Stewart
Chair, Professional Teaching Standards Board
History Teacher, Center for Teaching and Learning

Ms. Belinda Stokes
Principal, Henry Snyder High School

Dr. Dorothy Strickland
New Jersey State Board of Education
Samuel DeWitt Proctor Professor of Education, State of New Jersey Professor of Reading, Emerita, Rutgers University

Mr. Bruce Taterka
U.S. Teaching Ambassador Fellow
Lead Teacher of Science and Technology, West Morris Mendham High School

Ms. Patricia Wright
Consultant; Retired Superintendent/Principal; Spring Lake

Star Ledger - N.J. ranks 46th nationally for participation in the National School Breakfast Program

Published: Friday, September 30, 2011, 6:35 AM Updated: Friday, September 30, 2011, 6:51 AM

By Nic Corbett/The Star-LedgerThe Star-Ledger

A bowl of cereal, a cup of milk and some graham crackers can help a student start the school day off right, but New Jersey ranks 46th in the nation for participation in the National School Breakfast Program.

Only 28 percent of New Jersey children eligible for free- or reduced-price meals were served breakfast at school last year through the federally funded program, according to a report by the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New Jersey using data from the New Jersey Departments of Education and Agriculture. Executive Director Cecilia Zalkind said it’s difficult for students to concentrate on a reading assignment or solve a math problem without eating in the morning.

"Kids can focus better when they’re not hungry," Zalkind said. "They’re not distracted by being hungry."

In New Jersey, school officials often blame the low participation rates on logistics. Students don’t arrive on time to eat in the cafeteria before classes start. But a few districts — such as Newark and Perth Amboy schools — have worked out an efficient routine by serving food in the classroom, so they don’t have to rely on parents or bus schedules to get students into the schools early.

The students eat while the teacher is taking attendance or doing other administrative tasks.

"It isn’t cutting into their educational time," said Tim Linden, food services director for Perth Amboy schools. "Breakfast takes about 10 minutes to get it, sit down, eat it and throw it away."

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Because both Newark and Perth Amboy have a high percentage of students who qualify, school officials said they decided to serve breakfast for free to all students and pay for what the federal reimbursement does not cover. Officials could not provide figures on how much that cost.

"We just wanted to offer that benefit to more students, and the only way to do that is make it more accessible to them," said Tonya Riggins, director of food services for Newark public schools, which had 74 percent of students who qualify for free- and reduced-priced lunch participate in the breakfast program last year.

The schools are reimbursed based on participation of students who qualify for free or reduced price meals, which is based on family income. For a family of four that threshold is $29,055 for free and $41, 348 for reduced price.

In Newark, it used to be common for students to complain of an upset stomach and be sent to the nurse’s office, Riggins said. But now fewer complaints interrupt classroom time.

Student monitors bring bins packed with food and a roster to each classroom in the mornings. Children eat whole-grain muffins, munch on cheddar cheese sticks and drink fruit juice during the morning announcements. Custodians come by afterward to pick up the trash.

"We do our best to include items that are pretty much self-contained and kid-friendly," Riggins said. "If we find that there’s an item that might produce more crumbs, we’d remove that item."

The number of students who eat breakfast in the 40,000-student district has increased from 8,000 to as many as 28,000, Riggins said. Since the district rolled out the program in most schools in 2004, students have shown more attentiveness, she said.

"I’ve had some administrators share with us that they have seen a change in attendance and in students’ behavior," Riggins said.

Although 313 school districts in New Jersey are required to establish a school breakfast program, just nine percent serve more than half of eligible students, according to the report.

The state’s child poverty rate and the number of children living in families receiving food stamps have grown over the past five years, the report pointed out. But the number of students receiving free breakfast has not kept pace.

Zalkind said leadership on every level of government is needed to make expansion of the breakfast program a priority. Increasing participation would allow districts to receive millions more in federal reimbursement dollars.

She urged the state Department of Education to issue guidance clarifying that breakfast in the classroom would not count against required instruction time.

The Department of Education acknowledged the importance of proper nutrition at the start of the school day.

"While determinations about how to administer breakfast are made at the local level," said spokesman Justin Barra, "we will work with the Department of Agriculture to explore ways to increase students’ access to healthy breakfast options."

Student participation rate at New Jersey districts required to provide breakfast, 2010-11 school year

State law requires 313 school districts to have a school breakfast program because more than 20 percent of students there qualified for free- or reduced-price lunch.

Percent of children receiving breakfast

........Number of districts..........Percent of districts

75 to 100..............................................................12........................................4

50 to 74................................................................29........................................9

25 to 49................................................................115.......................................37

0 to 24..................................................................157......................................50

Source: Advocates for Children of New Jersey. Data excludes New Jersey’s 13 special services districts.


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