Commissioner Announces Priorities for School Year
Monday, October 1, 2012 • 9:24am
One of New Jersey’s missing longstanding traditions, the Commissioner’s Convocation, has been revitalized. For the second year in a row, the New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA) has hosted the convocation, a dialogue between the Department of Education and New Jersey’s chief education officers. This year, Commissioner Christopher Cerf and four assistant commissioners presented a “state of the schools” address, including priorities for the current school year, to more than 400 chief education officers at Jackson Liberty High School on September 19, 2012.
“This is a valuable dialogue which connects the state to the districts,” noted Richard Bozza, Ed.D., executive director of the NJASA. “As chief education officers, we’re able to provide feedback on what’s working and what might need to be changed. Together, we can work to provide the highest quality educational system for New Jersey’s students.”
“Our role is to connect the chief education officers with the resources they need in order to take their districts to the next level,” said Dr. Bozza. “The convocation is just one example of how we are putting our school leaders in touch with key decision makers.”
NJASA reinstated the forgotten tradition of the Commissioner’s Convocation last year when Cerf was acting commissioner. This year, he returned as commissioner, outlining key priorities for the coming year:
- Getting children to read by third grade, a key indicator of later success
- Closing the achievement gap between wealthy and poor students and different races
- Freeing successful schools of state rules while helping those that need to improve
- Ease the “red tape” requirements from the state
Four assistant commissioners also presented their priorities for New Jersey’s schools.
Bari Erlichson, chief performance officer, discussed NJ SMART, a system that tracks everything from test scores to post-graduate success. For the first time, every district’s graduates are being tracked through college. The state plans to correlate student success to individual teachers as part of the evaluation plan, beginning 2013-14.
Penny MacCormack, chief academic officer, discussed a new model curriculum for the Regional Achievement Centers (RAC), to help lowest-performing schools. The RACs are currently in operation, and beginning to track improvements.
Evo Popoff, chief innovation officer, focused on blended learning, where online learning is integrated with face-to-face instruction. He noted the real obstacles were that only half the districts had enough bandwidth and software to support the instructional programs.
Peter Shulman, chief talent officer, will be putting in place the mechanisms for the new tenure law. Other priorities include the statewide evaluation system, now being piloted in 20 districts, and improvements in mentoring and teacher certification.
Attendees also had the chance to direct questions to the commissioner and his team. When asked about loosening spending limits, Cerf suggested that districts instead think of “creative redistributions” of resources. “If we keep spending our resources in the same ways, we will not have enough to do what we need to do,” he said.
About Commissioner Chris Cerf
A nationally recognized expert in comprehensive school system reform, Chris Cerf was sworn in as New Jersey’s Commissioner of Education on July 31, 2012 after serving as acting commissioner since January 18, 2011. As Commissioner, he oversees 2,500 public schools, 1.4 million students and 110,000 teachers in over 600 districts. He is working to make New Jersey’s education system, already one of the best-performing systems in the country, into one focused on accelerating student learning, expanding quality choice offerings, and preparing students for college and careers.
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 Explain Budget Considerations
What schools can offer to students is directly affected by budget. Due to the complexity of the school budget cuts and the effects that will be felt in schools across the state, the NJASA has released a series of videos to help parents and taxpayers better understand the issues, and the potential aftermath of the events and changes. 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.