State Education Dept. undergoes organizational shake-up

TRENTON – The State Board of Education today approved a new organizational structure for the state Education Department focusing on four reform measures that officials hope will improve student performance.

 “While New Jersey currently spends more money per pupil than almost any other state, our ‘achievement gap’ for low-income students is one of the largest in the country, leaving many of our most vulnerable students without the options they deserve,” Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf said in a statement. “By focusing on four nationally recognized pillars of reform – high standards and rigorous assessments, data and accountability, educator effectiveness, and innovative school models – we are poised to ensure all New Jersey students, regardless of socioeconomic status, are college and career ready.”

As part of the administration’s ongoing attempt to overhaul the educational system in the state, Cerf stated that  the measures are intended to produce high school students who will be college-ready, and then, career-ready.

The four positions the Education Department will create are:

Chief Academic Officer: Will be responsible for implementing the new Common Core State Standards, ensuring that the tests reflect college and career readiness, and collaborating with education leaders across the state to help them build curriculum and instructional tools to meet that goal;

Chief Performance Officer: Will develop an accountability system and complete development of statewide data, which will inform progress against learning goals for every school and student group on an ongoing basis;

Chief Talent Officer: Will ensure that New Jersey has the highest-performing teachers and administrators by focusing on recruitment, retention, and development; will be responsible for expanding tools and the ability to collaborate around timely use of data to diagnose learning progress and personalize instruction for every child; and will oversee the design and implementation of teacher effectiveness work, including evaluation and tenure reforms;

Chief Innovation Officer: Will identify, launch, and support proven school models, programs, and technologies for parents and children, especially in our persistently lowest-performing school communities.

Bari Erlichson, who holds a PhD from Stanford University and is the Department’s former Director of the Office of Education Data, has been named Chief Performance Officer.

The department is conducting a search to fill the other positions.

Loosened requirements

Earlier today, the state Board of Education voted to loosen the requirements regarding the superintendents hired by the state’s low-performing school districts, which would enable people with little to no educational administration experience to try their hand.

The pilot program would go into effect immediately in approximately 57 school districts.

The new regulations, passed by a 6-3 vote at Wednesday’s meeting, would only require a bachelor’s degree and management experience to apply the position of superintendent.

Districts that aren’t low-performing, however, must still have school leaders with the more traditional requirements, such as a master’s degree and completion of tests, among other criteria.



State Education Dept. undergoes organizational shake-up