5-4-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Agenda: Teacher Evaluation Revisions Up for First Review Protests expected over graduation requirements, while state board likely signs off on Common Core replacement Date: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 Time: 10 a.m. Where: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st-floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton Teacher evaluation tops list of big topics: The Board of Education will get an opening look at the first significant revisions to the regulations governing the state’s TEACH NJ law that reformed teacher tenure and evaluation. It will be the one new item for consideration on a day otherwise busy with some familiar topics,...'
NJ Spotlight--Op-Ed: We Must Learn to Teach the Entire Child Emphasizing the academic aspects of education to the detriment of others will not help develop life-long learners Public schools have been, and always will be, primarily academic institutions. Yet schools are doing a disservice to students if they exclusively emphasize the academic side of their students’ experiences. We need to be that and so much more...'
Associated Press--Parents sue over lead in water at N.J. city's schools NEWARK — Parents of four students filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against New Jersey's largest school district and other public officials over lead found in drinking water. The parents allege in the suit against Newark's public schools that the district deliberately exposed children to harmful levels of lead, which is known to severely affect a child's development. The district shut off water fountains at half of its buildings in March because of elevated lead levels...'
5-3-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Refining and Revising Anti-Bullying Law Easier Said Than Done One of the more unpopular changes would give school principals the discretion to decide what constitute bullying and what is just bad behavior Five years after the state enacted its controversial anti-bullying law, the long process of fine tuning the legislation continues. Perhaps understandably, the arguments and counterarguments that endeavor has sparked off are reminiscent of the sometimes-heated debates that greeted the original measure.
NJ Spotlight--State’s 3,000 Public Schools to Begin Testing for Lead in Water Gov. Chris Christie’s directive puts start date for testing this coming September With an increasing number of New Jersey schools detecting lead in their water, Gov. Chris Christie yesterday ordered all of the state’s 3,000 public schools to begin testing their water for the contaminant, starting next September. (The directive does not apply to private or parochial schools.) In issuing the directive, the governor also urged the Legislature to include $10 million in next year’s state budget to pay for the testing program, as well as requiring districts to notify parents when unsafe levels of lead are found in their systems...'
Star Ledger--N.J. wants to know if school should start after 8:30 a.m. TRENTON — New Jersey is considering the potential benefits of pushing back school start times, and the state Department of Education wants to hear what teachers, parents and students think. The state is holding a series of public hearings this week, beginning Monday, and accepting online comments until May 20...'
Education Week--Since 2013, more than 5,000 migrant children placed in NJ TRENTON, N.J.— The federal government has placed more than 5,000 migrant children from Central America with adult sponsors in New Jersey since the fall of 2013, where they are expected to attend school while they seek legal status in immigration court...'
5-2-16 Education in the News
Jersey Journal--N.J. school district apologizes for PARCC error, but parents still have questions BAYONNE -- The city school district is apologizing for administering the wrong PARCC test to 34 students this week, but some parents are saying they've been left in the dark about what happened. The testing snafu on Tuesday involved a classroom of students at Nicholas Oresko School being administered the Grade 8 Mathematics Assessment rather than the Algebra I Assessment they were supposed to take...'
The Record-- New Jersey holding hearings to consider later school start times TRENTON — State education officials this week will launch a series of hearings to discuss whether middle and high school students should start the school day later in the morning. The Legislature passed a law last year to consider the proposal...'
4-29-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Interactive Map: Surveying Administrative Costs per Pupil Across NJ Administrative costs range from a low of 4 percent of the budget in Avalon to nearly 40 percent for Camden’s Freedom Prep Charter School While not the most expensive part of a school budget, administrative costs eat up about $1 of every $10 spent per pupil for general purposes and have been rising. The Taxpayers' Guide to Education Spending released earlier this month by the state Department of Education calculated a statewide average of $1,639 budgeted per pupil for administration in the current school year. That's slightly more than last year and about 5 percent higher than in 2013-2014, the data shows...'
NJ Spotlight—Op-Ed: A New Model for Innovation, Even in the Smallest School Districts ‘Clustering’ to share developers and resources, ‘lab sites’ both to learn and to be free to fail In this new digital ecosystem, the connection between technology, innovation, and ultimately student success is dependent on the ability to create, produce, and implement programs that support the needs of the 54.8 million students in the United States. Throughout schools in the United States, districts are at some point on the continuum of integrating innovative learning experiences into their curriculums, spaces, practices, and policies...'
Cherry Hill Courier-Post -- Should your high schooler start class later? GLOUCESTER TWP. - A national study recommends middle and high schoolers start the school day later in the morning. But would it work for New Jersey's students?
4-28-2016 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--What Will It Take to Repair New Jersey’s Ailing Water Infrastructure? Lead is just the most publicized of several serious problems; meanwhile, costs for consumers continue to climb The Legislature appears poised to take a crack at fixing the state’s aging drinking-water systems, which have exhibited several highly visible problems in recent months. A special legislative task force would be given six months to come up with recommendations to deal with issues related to the drinking-water infrastructure under a measure (SCR-86) to be considered early next week...'
NJ Spotlight--Baraka and Christie Square off Over $72M Gap in Newark School Budget Mayor places blame on former superintendent Cami Anderson, governor defends investment in charter schools Faced with a $72 million gap in the Newark school budget -- and a plan to raise the state-controlled district’s school taxes by 10.3 percent -- Mayor Ras Baraka went on the offensive. Baraka blamed former Superintendent Cami Anderson -- who was appointed by Gov. Chris Christie -- for the shortfall, claiming that there was a $40 million budget surplus when she took office...'
Star Ledger--N.J. school district seeks to lead in transgender equality HIGHLAND PARK — The borough has never been afraid to take a stand for progressive values, even if it meant making a little noise, said Darcie Cimarusti, president of the Highland Park Board of Education. Which is why Cimarusti and other officials and experts were not afraid to say that state has not gone nearly far enough in addressing transgender and gender diverse equality with statewide policy...'
Star Ledger--Should N.J. delay using PARCC, other tests for graduation? TRENTON — Amid an ongoing lawsuit challenging the state's graduation requirements, a New Jersey lawmaker is calling for a moratorium on requiring students to pass a standardized test to graduate high school. State Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex) on Wednesday announced that she will introduce legislation that would prevent New Jersey from using the controversial PARCC exams or any other test for the purpose of a high school exit exam until the 2020-2021 school year. "While students would still be permitted to take the tests, their participation in the assessment and their scores on the exam over the next four years would not affect their academic standing or their ability to graduate," Gill said. If passed, the bill would take effect immediately, though it's not intended to save current seniors who have yet to meet graduation requirements, according to Gill's office...'
4-27-16 Education in the News
The Record--N.J. lawmakers demand end to school takeovers State takeovers of financially troubled public school districts need to end, a lawmaker said Tuesday, citing what he described as 25 years of pent-up frustration and poor results since the State Education Department took over the Paterson School District. Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly said state run school districts have created “a breeding ground for fraud and mismanagement of public funds,” in districts that have failed predominantly low-income African-American and Latino students. He introduced a bill earlier this month to end those takeovers...'
NY TIMES-- Test Scores Show a Decline in Math Among High School Seniors The average performance of the nation’s high school seniors dropped in math from 2013 to 2015, but held steady in reading, according to results of a biennial test released Wednesday. The results, from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also showed a drop in the percentage of students in private and public schools who are considered prepared for college-level work in reading and math. In 2013, the last time the test was given, 39 percent of students were estimated to be ready in math and 38 percent in reading; in 2015, 37 percent were judged prepared in each subject...'
Education Week--Alternative Tests Aligned With Common Core Find Niche in Special Ed. Assessments manage to avoid common-core maelstrom While intense political pressure has prompted several states to move away from shared tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards, a set of aligned assessments for students with severe cognitive disabilities has managed to maintain support. For the current school year, 2015-16, 27 states and the District of Columbia plan to administer alternate assessments that were developed by Dynamic Learning Maps or by the National Center and State Collaborative, two federally funded consortia. An additional state, Alaska, had planned to offer a consortium-designed alternate assessment this spring, but dropped out because of technical problems...'
4-25-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--NJ School Districts Craft Progressive Policies on Transgender Rights Advocates say schools have made a good first step, but much more needs to be done when it comes to gender-identity issues Transgender students use of bathrooms and locker rooms has become an increasingly prominent issue, with a number of school districts adopting policies that make it clear that students may use facilities corresponding to their gender identity...'
NJSpotlight--Administration Poring Over Pearson Contract to Assess PARCC Damages Just determining what contract says about outages will be a chore; the agreement’s documents are nearly 1,000 pages long Last week state Education Commissioner David Hespe said he would hold Pearson accountable for the one-day crash of New Jersey’s PARCC testing. This week the Christie administration is going through the testing vendor’s voluminous contract with the state to see what that accountability will mean...'
This test is more accurate than its predecessor, NJASK. National standards for achievement are meaningless without a test to measure them. State officials haven't yet said whether Pearson, the company hired to administer the online PARCC exam, will refund us for the lost testing day last week.
But it should..."
4-22-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--N.J. PARCC joins growing list of exams plagued by tech glitches When New Jersey scrapped its old standardized tests in favor of the new PARCC exam given on computer, education officials said the online tests would be less costly and easier to score than the old paper-and-pencil exams. But Wednesday, state education officials experienced the downside of online testing when a computer glitch left students across the state staring at blank screens. New Jersey was forced to postpone testing in grades 3 through 11 for the day as its testing vendor scrambled to figure out what went wrong with PARCC, short for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. As New Jersey school children sit this month for the new PARCC exams, there are still big questions about how much the controversial tests will eventually cost...'
The Record—Op-Ed: PARCC and wait If those opposed to PARCC testing were looking for one more reason to persuade state education officials to abandon the controversial statewide exams, they had one handed to them on Wednesday when a computer glitch shut down the PARCC testing systems at many schools across New Jersey. Though apparently all systems were go on Thursday and full testing was resumed, Wednesday’s disruption was another setback for a testing protocol that’s been mired in controversy since the day it was introduced. ..'
Education Week--ESSA Cheat Sheet: What's in the New Testing Regulations? School districts, state chiefs, advocates, and the U.S. Department of Education now have a better idea of how testing will work under the brand-new Every Student Succeeds Act. And it only took eight days of eye-glazing-and-occasionally-contentious debate, known inside the Beltway as "negotiated rulemaking."..'
4-21-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Hespe’s Headaches: PARCC Glitch, School Funding, Anti-Bullying . . . Flaky PARCC server throws a pall over commissioner’s State House visit It was not an auspicious day for state Education Commissioner David Hespe to go before the state Legislature. The setting was Hespe’s annual -- and usually fairly routine -- appearance before the Assembly budget committee to discuss the proposed $13 billion budget plan for education in fiscal 2017. But almost immediately, he faced questions about the breakdown in the state’s PARCC testing, which led to the exams being suspended for a day...'
NJ Spotlight--State Supreme Court Ruling on Public Employee Pensions Could Burden System If top court decides to restore cost-of-living adjustments for retirees it could mean another $13B to state’s unfunded pension liability A decision from the New Jersey Supreme Court could come down at any time on a major case involving the health of the state’s public-employee pension system. The impact of the high court’s ruling will be felt at first only by retired workers, but voters statewide also have a reason to pay close attention to the outcome. At issue before the Supreme Court right now is whether Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers had the legal standing in 2011 to suspend annual cost-of-living adjustments that retirees enrolled in the pension system had been receiving along with their regular benefit checks...'
Star Ledger--5 things to know about the PARCC exam crash in N.J. What you need to know about the PARCC test scores NJ Advance Media's Adam Clark breaks down the PARCC test results. Some New Jersey students expecting to participate in standardized testing Wednesday morning instead saw a blank screen because of a technological error with the operating system for the computerized exams. The glitch led the state to mandate that all testing come to a halt on Wednesday afternoon as Pearson, the company that provides the tests, works to resolve the problem. Here are 5 things teachers, parents and students should know about about the PARCC tests problem in New Jersey...'
4-20-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Fine Print: Annual OLS Quizzing of Christie Administration on Schools Legislative staff probes charter funding and mysterious 2012 task force What it is: The nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services annually completes a fiscal analysis of each state department’s budget, including a Q&A with the administration over issues it chooses. The OLS releases that back and forth to coincide with each department’s budget hearing before the Legislature. As state Education Commissioner David Hespe comes before the Assembly budget committee today, this is the written exchange with the state Department of Education this spring over a wide variety of topics, from how extra funds have gone to charter schools to why a 2012 task force on school-spending fraud has yet to issue a single report...'
Star Ledger--What's the median salary for teachers in your district? Teacher pay has been a controversial subject in New Jersey for years. Today, in some districts, median teacher salaries are approaching six figures. The median teacher salary in New Jersey school districts ranges from a high of more than $95,000 to a low of about $41,000 this school year, according to new state data. The pay data, released as part of the state's annual Taxpayer's Guide to Education Spending, shows the median salary in each school district and each charter school...'
Education Week--Court Sides With Transgender Student, Ed. Dept. Over School Restroom Access In a decision that could have far-reaching implications for schools around the country, a federal appeals court has sided with a transgender student who sued his school after it prohibited him from using the boys' restroom because he was born a girl...'
4-19-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Could 10,000 NJ High-School Students Miss Their Graduations? Lawyers are negotiating to find an alternative to passing PARCC or other testing requirements, but no deal yet With the clock ticking for as many as 10,000 high school seniors on the eve of graduation, lawyers met yesterday to try to reach agreement on how the state can address a challenge to its hastily implemented testing requirements...'
NJ Spotlight--How Effective Are the State’s Efforts to Protect Our Kids from Lead? Screening programs are in place, but follow-up is sloppy; meanwhile, tens of millions may have been diverted from funds meant for lead abatement With concerns growing across the state and nation about lead contamination in aging water systems, homes, and other buildings, elected leaders in New Jersey continued to drill state officials Monday on their work to prevent and track lead poisoning among vulnerable youngsters...'
4-18-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--How to graduate high school without passing PARCC What you need to know about the PARCC test scores NJ Advance Media's Adam Clark breaks down the PARCC test results. With PARCC testing in full swing this month in New Jersey schools, students have likely heard a lot about how the exams can help them meet the state's graduation requirements. The tests, called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams, are one way high school students can fulfill the graduation requirement for standardized testing. But current high school students don't have to pass PARCC exams, or even take them, in order to graduate...'
The Record--Struggling Atlantic City makes half payment to schools (AP) — Cash-strapped Atlantic City has made a partial payment to its schools system as it tries to prevent a judge from freezing the little amount of money it has on hand. But the state Department of Education, which is suing to force the city to pay its entire debt, isn't satisfied. The city still owes the schools about $30 million in taxes it will have collected for them by July 15...'
Washington Post-- Teachers talk back: The effect of being evaluated by student test scores Just about every time you turn around, you can find, somewhere, a new survey or report or brief or poll that includes “teacher voices.” They are usually funded by a foundation that has some small or, often, huge investment in corporate school reform, and the reports somehow find a way to validate some reform tenets. Here is a new survey that includes the voices of teachers from an entirely different source — with different results...'
4-15-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Consensus and Compromise on Atlantic City Remain Elusive, Some Movement Seen Democratic Leaders in Assembly and Senate willing to amend bills; Christie concession on Supreme Court nominee seen as hopeful sign Democratic legislative leaders have yet to reach consensus on the Atlantic City intervention, and Gov. Chris Christie remains adamant that a full state takeover must occur. Yet the earliest signs of a possible compromise are starting to emerge...'
NY Times--California Appeals Court Reverses Decision to Overturn Teacher Tenure Rules A California appeals court ruled on Thursday that the state’s job protections for teachers do not deprive poor and minority students of a quality education or violate their civil rights — reversing a landmark lower court decision that had overturned the state’s teacher tenure rules...'
4-14-16 Education in the News
NY Times--Teacher Tenure Is Challenged Again in a Minnesota Lawsuit Opening a new front in the assault on teacher tenure, a group of parents backed by wealthy philanthropists served notice to defendants on Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging Minnesota’s job protections for teachers, as well as the state’s rules governing which teachers are laid off as a result of budget cuts. Similar to cases in California and New York, the plaintiffs, who are filing the lawsuit in district court in Ramsey County in St. Paul, argue that the state’s tenure and layoff laws disproportionately harm poor, minority children because, they say, the most ineffective teachers are more likely to be assigned to public schools with high concentrations of those children...'
4-13-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Reformers Question If School-Aid Formula Is Out of Touch with Reality It’s not just rich versus poor or urban versus rural; some basic assumptions of school-funding formula may need to be rethought Amid the annual handwringing over the state’s perennially underfunded school-aid formula, a number of lawmakers are pushing for a change in the formula that would distribute aid more fairly and help certain districts that have been overwhelmed by large increases in students...'
Star Ledger--N.J. could phase out special aid to some school districts New Jersey's Department of Education could consider a proposal to redistribute a special category of school funding and gradually provide less money to some school districts, Education Commissioner David Hespe said Tuesday...'
The Record--H.S. football: State Education Commissioner confident his agency can solve imbalance in high school sports State Education Commissioner David Hespe told lawmakers Tuesday that he is confident his agency can work out an agreement with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association to craft a way for high-powered teams in North Jersey to have full and fair schedules...'
4-12-16 Education in the News
NJ Spotlight--Beyond Recognizing the Problem, Paying to Purify Drinking Water in NJ Schools Parents, educators, teachers, and lawmakers start coming to terms with a situation that’s probably far more complex than anyone suspects The topic of testing for lead in the water of New Jersey’s schools drew a big showing of political support yesterday, but ironically the discussion was as much about what’s not in the proposed law as what is. The state’s Senate Democratic leadership hosted a roundtable in the State House to call for a bill that would mandate twice-a-year testing of all water outlets in Garden State schools...'
Star Ledger--Pascack Valley schools OK transgender policy after contentious meeting HILLSDALE — Transgender students at the Pascack Valley Regional High School district will be able to use restrooms or locker rooms based on their gender identity under a policy passed Monday by the Board of Education. The board voted 6-1 to approve the policy, which also calls for staff to address transgender students based on a "gender identity that is consistently asserted at school."...'
Star Ledger--N.J. approves more than 100 school religious holidays TRENTON — The state Board of Education this week approved a list of religous holidays in the upcoming school year on which schools must allow excused absences. The list, updated annually, includes more than 100 holidays for the 2016-17...'
4-11-16 Education in the News
Star Ledger--N.J. school board set to vote on new transgender restroom policy New guidelines that would allow high school students in the Pascack Valley regional schools to use restrooms based on their gender identity will be up for a vote Monday. If adopted, the district's Board of Education would follow in the footsteps of numerous other New Jersey communities by adopting new rules designed to protect the rights of transgender students...'
Star Ledger--Elevated lead levels found in 14 Paterson schools Recent disclosures by the Paterson school district has revealed that water sources in 14 out of 45 city schools were above the federal limit for lead — and, in three schools, those levels were more than 13 times above the Environmental Protection Agency's limit of 15 parts per billion. Moreover, a letter from Superintendent Donnie Evans to parents states school officials not only knew of the lead in the water but that they failed to disclose that information to parents...'
PolitickerNJ--No Action on Christie Lawsuit Against A.C. Government Friday No action Friday as judge declines to order a freeze of Atlantic City’s funds. Governor Christie announced the lawsuit against the city Monday. Sources confirm that the first round of arguments in Chris Christie’s lawsuit against the government of Atlantic City resulted in no action Friday. The governor announced the suit Monday, and called for a swift ruling against the city for what he called improper use of property tax collections to shore up its shore up its municipal budget. The next court date is scheduled for April 19...'
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