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As PARCC testing gets under way ...
As PARCC testing gets under way in New Jersey schools, state Education Commissioner David Hespe has taken steps that would ultimately make it a requirement for high school graduation.
With parents' and students' refusal to take the test, state Education Commissioner David Hespe is laying out a proposal of his own.
AsburyParkEA Staff | Asbury Park Education Association
"We have to be very careful in comparing one test to another," said state Education Commissioner David Hespe.
There is some wiggle room for each of the states when it comes to adhering to those designations, but Hespe
said yesterday that he
would recommend New Jersey follow PARCC's guidelines in setting its own passing or "cut" scores.
That's an especially important designation for high schools, where the PARCC cut-off could ultimately be the threshold for graduating or not.
The state Board of Education
is expected to meet and decide on the "cut" scores next month.
"I will recommend that we rely on PARCC's process, it was a very good process," Hespe
Education Commissioner David ...
Education Commissioner David Hespe told lawmakers on the Assembly Budget Committee that the governor's education budget calls for the state to invest a record-high $12.7 billion in education aid in fiscal year 2016.
But Hespe acknowledged that the roughly $9 billion in direct aid planned for public school districts is about $1.1 billion shy of what is called for under a funding formula signed into law in 2008.
The formula has been fully funded once since its adoption, and Hespe
said the state still doesn't have the money needed to comply.
said no district would receive less aid in the upcoming school year than what is being awarded during the current year.
Lawmakers on the panel challenged Hespe
to defend such "flat funding," given that school expenses for staff, programs and supplies are increasing.
"I think flat funding was actually better than most people were expecting going into this budget," Hespe
said, adding that the state is devoting millions more for teachers' pension and health benefits, school construction aid and debt service.
In total, Hespe
said the percentage of dollars in the state budget devoted to education has increased from 33 percent at the start of Christie's tenure to about 38 percent under his
proposed fiscal year 2016 budget.
"The overall share of the state budget going to support schools and education is growing even with flat funding," he
"This does not represent a point where the administration is saying we're not going to be supporting our schools.
In fact, we're supporting them at historic percentage levels."
department has finished reviewing all school districts' proposed budgets for the upcoming years and has not uncovered any alarming cutbacks that could drastically impact the quality of education in the short term.
said the funding issue would need to be closely watched over time.
The commissioner acknowledged that freezing the formula has created complications for funding some charter schools, which are supposed to receive 90 percent of the per-pupil funding devoted to their sending districts' students.
Some charter schools claim they are being shortchanged because they aren't receiving the full share of state aid their sending districts get.
"Freezing of the formulas has resulted in us having to make some very difficult decisions regarding charter school funding for FY16," Hespe
said, adding that the department has tried to balance the needs of charter schools and the impact on sending districts.
"This is the best we can possibly do with a frozen formula. ... It's imperfect, but it's the best of the worst scenario," he
Another major discussion area during Wednesday's budget hearing was the number of students opting out of the state's new computer-based standardized test, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers
New Jersey students in third through 11th grades began taking the exam for the first time this year, but some parents have refused to allow their children to be tested, citing concerns about its effectiveness and purpose or the amount of classroom time wasted on assessments or testing preparation.
told lawmakers that about 3 percent of students in elementary school grades have opted out of the first part of the test, about 7 percent of ninth- and 10th-graders, and about 14 percent of 11th-graders.
The high number of refusals among juniors was expected because the test isn't yet a graduation requirement and because scheduling for 11th grade is more difficult, Hespe
"The other grades we saw very high participation, low parental refusals," he
The numbers were preliminary and likely would change after testing is completed this spring, he
Ninety-eight percent of the students completed the test with a computer.
"That puts us as a national leader in using computer technology in our classrooms," Hespe
said there "definitely" would be some districts that fall short of that target, but the U.S. Department of Education
would weigh several factors before deciding to deduct aid, including the district's history and what steps it was taking to make improvements.
State Education Commissioner David Hespe was asked about the language change at the budget hearing yesterday, and said that as the state's funding formula has been frozen for school districts, charters have only suffered.
said the move was meant to strike a middle ground.
"The freezing of the formula has forced us to make some really tough decisions for fiscal 2016," Hespe
"Some charter budgets are very, very frail, and we don't want them shuttering because we made a bad decision," he
State Education Commissioner David ...
State Education Commissioner David Hespe yesterday offered his most expansive public comments yet on Christie's announcement, promising that the review of the Common Core standards would be a "highly deliberative" and inclusive process.
Speaking at the State Board of Education meeting
said the review could have had been expected anyway at the five-year mark of the Common Core.
"We'll be at a different place," Hespe
said in an interview.
"How much different?
If history is a judge, it may not be that much, but it will be a different place."
At another point, he
said: "This is more of a renovation, not a tear-down."
hopes the review will address some key gaps in the existing standards.
For instance, he
said more attention has to be given to subjects other than math and language arts, which are the two academic areas covered by the Common Core.
added that the review will result in more attention being paid to technology skills as well.
"Are we preparing students enough for STEM careers?"
But Education Commissioner David Hespe, in comments at the state Board of Education meeting, didn't share the same critical tone.
said New Jersey has continuously reviewed standards used by schools that define what students should know in each grade.
Now is a good time, he
said, to see how schools have adapted to the Common Core and what can be improved or updated.
"We're five years into the process and at this time we have a good vantage point to make certain we are where we want to be," said Hespe
, education advocates and school board members have spent countless hours touring the state to promote and explain the standards and have developed websites to help in that effort.
Now, they are tasked with picking apart those standards in a point-by-point review with public input.
wants to ensure that standards were being taught across all subjects.
wants to see whether there are curriculum gaps in so-called STEM fields, named for science, technology, engineering and math.
also wants the review to look at the "bigger picture" of whether struggling students are getting help they need and whether students are leaving with the skills they to complete college.
"We want them to evolve and to make sure we are constantly preparing our students for future demands.
We are always looking to see if our standards are high enough, if our standards are clear enough, if our standards are age-appropriate," he
The Common Core will stay in place until the review process is completed, Hespe
After the review, the state will let schools know what has changed and why, while providing resource and time for schools to make changes, he
Star Ledger - Common Core Review Will Be "Highly Inclusive," Says Education Chief '…For now, Hespe said, schools should continue to use the standards while the state completes its highly deliberative review…'
TRENTON - State Education Commissioner David Hespe, under orders from Gov.
told the state Board of Education
would introduce a "highly inclusive" and "highly engaged" plan to arrive a new set of education standards, including setting up an online site to allow anyone to comment on the state's standards.
"Now is a very good time to do this, to take a look at, reflect on what we are doing," said Hespe
, who was appointed to his
post by the governor last year.
emphasized on Wednesday that state's education standards, which existed long before Common Core, were "living and breathing documents."
"We are always looking to see if our standards are high enough," Hespe
For now, Hespe
said, schools should continue to use the standards while the state completes its highly deliberative review.
"Until this process is complete, our standards remain in place," he
said that Christie's call for a review comes at a good time because the state will have new data from the PARCC exams, and the state will be able to see how students are performing in relation to specific standards.
State Education Commissioner David ...
State Education Commissioner David Hespe has long warned that U.S. Department of Education could penalize schools if fewer than 95 percent of students take their state tests, as required by federal law.
But the possibility of the state withholding funding was revealed last month during an NJ Advance Media interview with Hespe
When asked what penalties schools that don't receive federal Title I funding could face, Hespe
said "There could be the expectation that we withhold from them state dollars."
said that decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, and the most likely response would be to require a school to complete a corrective action plan.
later stressed that the state does not want to penalize a school financially if it can find other ways to address the school's issues.
Instead of supporting that bill, Ruiz introduced a resolution (SR129) calling on Hespe
to develop guidelines that identify a range of appropriate polices schools can use for students who don't take PARCC.