When school starts up in September, parents can expect some changes, according to the New Jersey Association of School Administrators. Here are the items to watch for the 2013-14 school year.
New Curriculum and Testing
Schools are gearing up for heavily revised math and language arts curriculum standards, part of the launch of the Common Core State Standards, adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. Standards are being implemented and will be assessed for the first time in 2014-15.
The new standards are designed to be relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge that young people need to succeed in college and careers. The standards will require more frequent and comprehensive testing, including computer-directed performance-based tasks.
One organization that is exploring computer testing is the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). PARCC is piloting online testing for state math and language arts exams.
To fully implement the new standards, schools will have to get up to speed in terms of technology, software, and high-speed connections. Schools are assessing whether their technology meets the requirements or whether upgrades are necessary. Look for your school to possibly add technology this year.
“The real challenge to schools will be budgetary, as new curriculum and testing requires a significant investment in technology,” said Dr. Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA). “NJASA is helping to smooth the process for new curriculum and testing. We held a special program sponsored by Intel to inform chief education officers about the new requirements. The NJASA Technology Committee is identifying implementation issues so that the process is seamless to both students and parents.”
New Anti-Bullying Rules For Sports
New Jersey recently received national attention when the state’s interscholastic athletic association clamped down on ‘trash talking’ on the sports field. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) announced the new rules, “that interscholastic athletic events are free from harassing conduct related to race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religion.” The full statement may be found at http://www.njsiaa.org/NJSIAA/SportsmanshipStandardsPR2013.pdf.
Dr. Bozza suggests that parents discuss the new rules with their kids so both are aware of behavior to report, if needed. Schools will treat the incidents on their fields as bullying if it falls under the definition of harassment, intimidation and bullying.
“One of the most difficult questions posed by districts is how to address all types of incidents that occur online and off school grounds, including nights and weekends,” said Dr. Bozza. “We need to be able to draw the line so that districts are clear, with funding available for these additional responsibilities.”
New Staff Evaluations
This fall, New Jersey’s teachers and principals will be evaluated with a new system put into effect by a state law, the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act. The law requires districts to adopt new evaluations that include student test scores and more frequent observations, initially only for language arts and math teachers in grades 3 to 8 and for principals/vice principals. Student test scores will make up 30 percent of the teacher’s evaluation and 50 percent of administrators’ scores.
“Ultimately the goal is better education for the students,” said Dr. Bozza, who cautioned districts to ensure that “assessments are authentic, and take in account an individual’s unique situation.”
The New Jersey Association of School Administrators is an organization of chief education officers and school administrators who lead school districts in New Jersey’s 21 counties. The association’s mission is to ensure a superior statewide system of education. Through ongoing professional training and education, the association shares knowledge among its members about best practices from both educational and administrative perspectives. Its goal is to move education forward by ensuring the highest quality of instruction for all New Jersey children.
Education Brief Videos
NJASA has produced a series of videos to keep educators, parents and the public up-to-date on issues, announcements and events with an impact on New Jersey schools and student education. Each video can be accessed on a special NJASA YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/TheNJASA or by clicking on the YouTube icon on the NJASA website, www.njasa.net.