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Education Transformation Task Force Final · PDF fileIntroduction ... issued Executive Order 58 establishing an Education Transformation Task Force, consisting of accomplished educators

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    Education Transformation Task Force

    Final Report

    September 5, 2012

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    Contents Introduction ........................................................................................................................................ 3

    Accountability Systems ...................................................................................................................... 12

    Liberating Educators from Restrictive Statutory Mandates ................................................................ 16

    Overview ....................................................................................................................................... 16

    Talent ............................................................................................................................................ 17

    Performance (including accountability, governance and fiscal efficiency) ....................................... 22

    Innovation ..................................................................................................................................... 36

    Academic (including student health and safety) ............................................................................. 38

    Liberating Educators from Restrictive Regulatory Mandates .............................................................. 42

    Overview ....................................................................................................................................... 42

    Academic ....................................................................................................................................... 44

    Talent .......................................................................................................................................... 104

    Performance ................................................................................................................................ 128

    Innovation ................................................................................................................................... 160

    Next Steps ....................................................................................................................................... 169

    Appendix ......................................................................................................................................... 170

    Additional Regulatory Reform Recommendations ........................................................................ 170

    Academic ..................................................................................................................................... 170

    Talent .......................................................................................................................................... 193

    Performance ................................................................................................................................ 195

    Innovation ................................................................................................................................... 229

    Task Force Membership ............................................................................................................... 238

    Acknowledgements ..................................................................................................................... 239

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    Introduction

    The core goal of New Jerseys education system is to ensure that all children, regardless of background

    or economic circumstances, graduate from high school ready for success in life. New Jerseys

    performance, while strong compared to most other states, falls far short of that standard. The

    achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and their wealthier peers remains

    staggering a sharp and disappointing reality that flies in the face of one of our most fundamental

    national ideals: equality of opportunity. The dramatically changed economic environment of the 21st

    century characterized by increased global competitiveness and a shift from an industrial- to a

    knowledge-based economy has shed a harsh light on another achievement gap. There is a growing

    chasm between what we require children to learn to be eligible to graduate from high school and what

    they actually need to learn to be truly ready for college and career.

    While New Jersey boasts one of the nations highest graduation rates, we should also be deeply

    concerned that a high percentage of our graduates require significant additional remediation before

    being able to pursue higher education. The aspiration to graduate all students ready for success in

    college and career is rooted in practical realities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between

    1998 and 2008, the economy lost 600,000 jobs previously available to people whose highest degree was

    a high school diploma. During the same period, more than 10 million jobs became available to people

    who had obtained a college or technical degree.

    From the outset of his administration, Governor Christie has called for a critical and unflinching

    examination of all that is, and is not, working in the States education system. In celebrating New

    Jerseys many successes, the Governor has repeatedly credited the States educators for their

    extraordinary contributions and selfless dedication. At the same time, he has insisted on an honest and

    forthright assessment of areas where we can serve our students better. Toward that end, the Governor

    on April 4, 2011, issued Executive Order 58 establishing an Education Transformation Task Force,

    consisting of accomplished educators from across the State.

    E.O. 58 charged the Task Force with two interrelated responsibilities:

    1) Review existing accountability systems including the Quality Single Accountability Continuum

    (QSAC) and provide recommendations on a revamped accountability system, which would

    grant more autonomy to public schools and public school districts while maintaining strict

    measures of accountability in the areas of student performance, safety and fiscal responsibility.

    2) Conduct a comprehensive review of all education-related statutes and regulations to

    determine the extent to which they increase the quality of instruction for students, improve

    academic achievement of students, improve teaching effectiveness within schools or improve

    the safety and well being of students ... or are overly prescriptive.

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    To date, members of the Task Force have met 14 times, held four public hearings, conducted four focus

    groups that engaged more than 40 educators, hosted meetings with numerous stakeholder

    organizations and heard presentations from at least a dozen expert witnesses. The Task Force also

    benefited from the participation of three members of the State Board of Education.

    The Task Force produced an Initial Report, which Governor Christie released to the public on September

    12, 2011. Pursuant to the further direction of Executive Order 58, the Task Force respectfully submits

    this Final Report.

    The work of the Task Force takes place in the context of perhaps the most ambitious set of

    organizational and directional changes in the history of the New Jersey Department of Education

    (Department). During the last 12 months, the Department has defined its mission and its measure of

    success in clear and unambiguous terms. All of the Departments activities are organized around

    meeting the goal of preparing all students for success in college and career, regardless of their life

    circumstances. Though easily said, the implications of this mission are profound.

    It means that the Department is committed to helping New Jerseys many successful schools elevate

    their work to even higher levels. Though we should rejoice when most of a schools seniors proudly

    walk across a stage in the spring, we must strive to have all students graduate. We also must have

    confidence that their diplomas signal that they are fully prepared to excel in higher education and the

    workplace.

    Even more important, however, are the implications for our most persistently underperforming schools

    and the students assigned to them. Believing in the potential of every single child requires a massive

    shift in our collective understanding of the purpose and promise of public education. It means

    proclaiming proudly that our public schools exist to provide every single child, regardless of

    circumstances exogenous to school, with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed throughout life.

    We must concede that the world deals tragically bad hands to many children burdening them with

    poverty, challenging home and community environments, and more and that overcoming those

    challenges is extraordinarily difficult. At the same time, progress depends on our belief that talented

    educators and effective schools can make a profoundly significant difference in helping children achieve

    despite the challenges imposed by circumstances beyond their control.

    When large, predictable swaths of our young people low-income boys and girls, African Americans,

    Hispanics and others consistently fall behind, we must honestly acknowledge that our public schools

    are not delivering on their promise and purpose. Poverty and other forces matter, but so do our schools.

    Good schools help students transcend

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