What Does Your New VP of the New Jersey State Board of Education Think About Testing and Accountability? Let Him Tell You Himself.

Last week Andrew Mulvihill was elected Vice President of the New Jersey State Board of Education, with Kathy Goldenberg as President. He shared with me his remarks upon his election, prefacing them by noting that he is “looking forward to a fresh, new approach to how the board operates. With what limited power we do have I plan on pursuing an agenda that focuses on standards and accountability because that’s what’s best for New Jersey …

JerseyCAN Hits Back At Repollet and Murphy’s “64 Floor” Ideology. Why? Because New Jersey Should Trust Our Teachers and Students To Achieve Success.

Late last week JerseyCAN issued a report called “The Real Test: Are We Committed to Excellence and Equity in New Jersey?” I recommend you read the whole thing:  It’s not long yet manages to succinctly and directly answer the question roiling NJ’s Department of Education: “Will we maintain challenging standards and assessments that ensure a high school diploma means something for all students, and work together to provide additional support to those that need it …

Waiting for Equity: Two Adults with Disabilities (My Son and His Best Friend) Are Caught In New Jersey’s Dysfunctional System.

My dear friend Susan Cohen recently wrote an article for the National Fragile X Foundation on the friendship of our sons, Julian and Jonah. She describes how they met at a sleepaway camp, enjoyed each other’s company (a rarity for our socially-averse boys, particularly mine), and, after a prod from a counselor and sustained parental intervention, have become best friends. This is a happy story that we hope will have a happy ending. For Julian …

Here’s A Leaked Memo From the NJ DOE’s Assistant Commissioner When She Directed Special Education in Asbury Park.

The memo below is from the New Jersey Department of Education’s Assistant Commissioner of Student Services, Carolyn Marano. It was written while she was Director of Special Education at Asbury Park Public Schools. In both positions she was hired by Lamont Repollet, first in his position as Superintendent of Asbury Park and then as NJ’s Education Commissioner. It all points to a disturbing pattern of leadership that undermines the academic trajectory of children with disabilities. This …

In Jersey City the Teacher Union Is Bargaining On Both Sides of the Table. Last Night One Ethical Board Member Tried to Uphold District Integrity.

I was a school board member for twelve years, including nine years as president. I thought I’d seen it all, including fraught negotiations with unions. I remember one particular negotiating session that commenced at 5 pm and concluded (successfully!) at 3:30 am the following morning. I ran home, got the house in order, packed lunches, got my kids ready for school, and was back in the Central Office by 8 am to sign a Memorandum …

If Your Kid Is a Ninth or Tenth Grader, He or She May Have to Take a Test on a Course Taken Three Years Ago. Unless This Happens.

Let’s say you’re a New Jersey parent of a current 10th grader. Your child, like one-third of New Jersey students, took Algebra 1 in 8th grade and, of course, is taking 10th grade English Language Arts right now. Guess what? Next year there is a very strong likelihood that your kid is going to have to take a standardized test in Algebra 1, a course he took three years previously, as well as repeat the …

Governor, The Hiring Scandal at the School Development Authority Is A Feature, Not A Bug.

Various news outlets are reporting on a second scandal (the first was Al Alvarez) at the School Development Authority, the agency that manages about $11 billion for school construction, primarily in Abbott districts. A Murphy political ally, Lizette Delgado-Polanco, was hired to run the agency last August and immediately fired 26 staff members, many of whom had served for years under both Democratic and Republican Administrations. She then hired 33 new staffers, some at atypically …

Just How Good Is Your Local School District? You Won’t Find Out By Browsing Ratings Sites. Spotlight on Princeton, Montclair, and Newark.

Over the weekend the Star-Ledger published a list of high schools with “surprisingly low scores” on school quality. Unlike the algorithms used by sites like the U.S. News and World Report ratings, which are limited to overall averages on tests like the SAT, New Jersey, like many other states, evaluates schools in a more granular manner (per federal education law), using a combination of student growth on standardized tests, graduation rates, and chronic absenteeism, the latter an indication …

Believe It or Not, Progressive Lawmakers Support Standardized Testing in NJ! (Take That, Ron Swanson.)

True confession: I started writing a post a few days ago on the demise of an important piece of legislation, Senate Bill 3381, that would allow New Jersey high schools to use new diploma qualifying tests that are actually aligned with what kids learn in school. But then I junked the draft. Why? Because that progressive new bill was a reaction to a state appellate court ruling that New Jersey couldn’t use new high school standardized …

Why Should You Care That Murphy’s Department of Education Is In Shambles?

When my younger daughter was in eighth grade, she and her classmates had to give a short speech about themselves. The topic she chose was “Everyone In My Family Is a Nerd Except Me.” Dad was a “genome nerd,” her older brother a “history nerd,” her older sister an “environmental science nerd,” and I was a “piano nerd.” As my sweet girl, protestations aside, blossomed into her own nerdiness (bio-geo-chemistry, if you must know), I …