SOMERSET, NJ - If all goes according to plan Franklin Township Public Schools Superintendent Dr. John Ravally will earn a bonus at the end of the upcoming school year, more minority students will be enrolled in AP classes, the grade level English Language Arts proficiency of 5th and 6th grade students will increase, and more high school students will attend class. 

Ravally, proposed a total of five Somerset County merit goals for the 2018-2019 school year during Thursday's Board of Education meeting.

The Somerset County Merit Goal Submission Form for the School Year of 2018-2019, which must be approved by the Executive County Superintendent, is comprised of three quantitative goals and two qualitative goals. According to the document, these goals should be “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive” and should “exceed the position’s core responsibilities."

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Completion of these goals would award Ravally with a merit bonus equal to a percentage of his annual base salary of $196,584, which is predetermined by the NJ Department of Education Fiscal Accountability Regulations.

Ravally, who was appointed as Superintendent of Franklin Township Public Schools in July 2015, was awarded more than $29,000 in merit pay for the 2017-18 school year for his work in driving K-2 student growth in language arts and math competencies, expanding community outreach efforts, and reducing the number of disciplinary issues in the district’s kindergarten students. He seeks a similar merit bonus through this year’s submission.

Related article: Superintendent Awarded Close to $30K in Merit Pay For Successful 2017-18

Here’s an outline of what Ravally has planned for the upcoming school year:

Quantitative Goal #1: Ravally is looking to increase the average enrollment of minority students in Advanced Placement (AP) courses for the 2019-2020 school year by 10 to 20 percent, as compared to enrollments of the same student population in the 2018-2019 school year.

To achieve this goal, Ravally plans to partner with Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS), a non-profit that works to give minority and low-income students equal access to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses.

“What we’re going to attempt to do is try and identify what the barriers are to enrollment, and then work to eliminate those barriers so that we can enroll more kids,” Ravally told TAPinto during Thursday’s board meeting. “There are about 400 students that we feel that could handle those AP courses, and we need to identify them and get them in so we can have a more equitable representation of our student body in those courses.”

As it stands, 60 Hispanic/Latino students and 72 African American students are enrolled in AP courses. A 20 percent increase in this enrollment would award Ravally a 3.33 percent compensation totaling $6,546.25, while a 15 percent or 10 percent increase would award him a 2.33 percent or a 1.33 percent compensation, respectively.

Quantitative Goal #2:

Ravally plans to increase the grade level English Language Arts proficiency of 5th and 6th grade students by 2 to 7 percent, as measured by iReady, an educational software designed to engage students in literacy and mathematics instruction and provide teachers with individualized proficiency assessments.

iReady was introduced in Franklin public school classrooms in the 2016-2017 school year after a series of successful pilot years. The software provides diagnostic tests that demonstrate the percentage of students who meet grade-level proficiency.

“The iReady platform has a proven high correlation to the NJ State Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts,” Mary Clark, a Franklin Township school district spokeswoman, wrote in an email to TAPinto.

Ravally proposes “intensive professional development on the use of iReady” by the district’s English Language Arts program, and an “increase in iReady usage” within classrooms to bolster the current baseline of 23 percent proficiency in 5th and 6th grade students.

Students’ progress will be assessed by comparing the iReady “End of Year” test results with the iReady “Beginning of the Year” test results.  An increase of 7 percent proficiency will award Ravally a 3.33 percent compensation, totaling $6,546.25, while a 5 percent or 2 percent increase would award him a 2.33 percent or 1.33 percent compensation, respectively.

And while the goal centered on increasing the percentage of minority students in AP courses is technically listed first on the submission form, Ravally explains that it is “equally as important as increasing proficiency in grade 5 and 6 … because one leads into the other”.

“The more students that we build a foundation for, the more apt they are and their ability to take the higher level courses,” Ravally said.

Related article: Back to School Safety Panel Discussion Set for September 10

Quantitative Goal #3:

Ravally is planning to reduce the number of course failures by Franklin high school students distributed to students for not meeting ‘Seat-time’ requirements – or in other words, not getting to class. He hopes to reduce the current baseline of 653 of such course failures by 5, 10 or 15 percent, with his compensations ranging from 1.33 to 3.33 percent, according to the reduction percentage.

He is looking to achieve these reductions through “procedural changes, close monitoring and increased seat-time recovery options”.

These procedural changes would potentially include scheduling “intermediate parent-student conferencing for students who reach certain absenteeism thresholds throughout the year,” Clark said, adding that the proposed ‘Seat-time’ recovery options could include Saturday Academies, Teacher Office Hours, and the use of Online Learning Platforms.

Qualitative Goal #1:

Ravally proposes working with district staff to track the post-graduation success of Franklin High School alumni “in order to explore and expand growth in programming”. This process would involve the development and distribution of a post-secondary survey instrument to a sample group of FHS graduates, leading to a comprehensive report of results to present to the Board of Education.

Completion of this goal, evidenced by the report of post-secondary survey results, would award Ravally with a 2.5 percent merit compensation, totaling $4914.60.

Qualitative Goal #2:

Ravally plans to work with district staff, community partners, and external consultants to meet his second qualitative goal, which is to “research and establish an educational foundation”. This process would include developing a Trustee List, along with Trustee approved Education Foundation By-laws.

Completion of this goal would also award Ravally with a 2.5 percent merit compensation, totaling $4914.60.

Moving Forward

If approved, all goals must be completed between September 1th, 2018 and June 30th, 2019 for Ravally to receive his merit compensation.

Ravally is required submit evidence of completion of each quantitative and qualitative goal to the Board of Education for them to review and certify. Following this review, the evidence will be forwarded to the Executive County Superintendent for final approval and the authorization of the total merit bonus payment.

Progress of these goals will be discussed at board meetings throughout the school year. 

TAPinto Franklin Township is independently owned and operated by  Malik A. Lyons FHS Class of 93’ Graduate. 

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