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Roxbury Board of Education Members Educate Themselves on Ethics and SGOs

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Members of the Roxbury Township Board of Education met on Tuesday, January 9th to conduct special board training during this public two and a half hour meeting. Topics covered included board ethics and the teacher evaluation process.

The Roxbury Board of Education achieved board certification status in 2017. This process recognized the full board’s commitment to training and effective governance in areas such as group process, decision-making, planning, effective meetings and focus on student achievement.

The board set its annual board goals at the July board retreat for the current school year, which included working toward the NJSBA Carol E. Larsen Master Board certification which is awarded in recognition of high performing boards. The board must provide evidence to demonstrate an emphasis on student achievement in their board actions along with completing additional hours of training.

This board training works to achieve that goal. Board President Leo Coakley explained that the second half of the training presented by Assistant Superintendent Chuck Seipp would directly correlate to this certification.

“New Jersey School Boards put out a special report a year ago in September on student achievement. There was a summary of recommendations that included 83 recommendations. The Board went through them last year and asked Chuck to identify which ones we’re already doing, which ones we’re not doing, and then asked the education committee to pick two or three as targets for this year that we would address.”

The one selected for this meeting was #29 on the list. It stated, “School board members and trustees should participate in professional development to understand the role and meaning of student growth percentiles (SGP) and student growth objectives (SGO) including their use in analyzing student achievement and evaluating the performance of educators.

Charlene Peterson from the New Jersey School Boards Association who was there to conduct the first half of the board training commended Roxbury on its utilization and implementation of the recommendations on the student achievement report sharing that “Roxbury is used as the example to see what they’ve done with this report.”

Peterson went on to introduce to the board revised opinions as it relates to the School Ethics Act. New and existing board members must sign an acknowledge receipt of the Code of Ethics for School Board Members each year as part of this Act. Board members need to familiarize themselves with it and each new and re-elected member needs to have specific training regarding it as opinions and legal updates are made continuously.

Peterson covered each of the ten points of the code of ethics as well as going into detail on what is considered conflicts of interests for board members as it relates to their voting and committee capabilities. She also shared advisory opinions in regards to board member volunteer actions seen as ethics violations. That opinion found that the following points were considered violations of the code:

  • Supervision, management and direction of school personnel and funds
  • Regular contact with students, parents and staff
  • Active day-to-day presence
  • Enmeshed in the building - For example, volunteer coaches, club advisors, playground aides, etc.

Peterson concluded up her training stating that the “School Ethics Act outlines the minimum expected or required behavior of school officials that will promote effective governance and public confidence.”

Following her presentation, Seipp extensively covered the teacher evaluation process as it relates to the impact from SGOs and SGPs on the tenure process according to the TeachNJ Act and AchieveNJ.

Seipp explained that “In August 2012, a legislative package called the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey Act or TEACHNJ was signed into law in order to raise student achievement by improving instruction through the adoption of evaluations that provide specific feedback to educators, inform the provision of aligned professional development, and inform personnel decisions per the NJDOE. AchieveNJ are the regulations that concern evaluation.”

He provided an overview of AchieveNJ’s primary components for all teachers and for those who teach grades 4-8 in English/Language Arts and those that teach grades 4-7 Math. All teachers need to complete SGOs for all students which are set by the teacher and the principal. SGPs are created only for teachers of ELA grades 4-8 and Math 4-7. These are based on state assessment performances like PARCC. A teacher’s evaluation includes the classroom observations plus their SGOs and SGPs which results in their summative rating which is an overall evaluation score.

Seipp went into detail regarding non-tenured and tenured evaluation practices noting that Roxbury deliberately uses multiple observers to help remove any bias from the evaluation process. Adding that the district follows the Danielson model which is an objective evidence-based approach. Each Roxbury administrator must complete a certification process in order to conduct teacher evaluations. This certification process is established to make sure all administrators are evaluating the staff based on the same criteria to remove subjective observations. This year the district also did cross-building evaluations which allowed elementary principals to observe secondary staff and vise-versa to provide useful feedback to benefit the educator.

A teacher summative score is rated on a scale of 1.0 to 4.0 and includes ineffective (1.0-1.84), partially effective (1.85-2.64), effective (2.65-3.49), and highly effective (3.5-4.0). Seipp went into detail explaining the different ways a teacher receives and maintains tenure based on this evaluation process encouraging staff to always strive for a highly effective status.

He shared with the board that the district wants to help promote growth amongst its educators by providing all the necessary professional development and feedback opportunities possible. Even sharing that the district purchased GoPro cameras, one for each building, for staff to use to evaluate themselves, either for themselves, with their colleagues or with their supervisors. This tool is meant to be used only to provide feedback for the educator and not to be used for evaluation purposes.

Seipp wrapped up his presentation emphasizing that timelines for evaluations and for staff members on corrective action plans are crucial.

The next Board of Education meeting will be Monday, January 22, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lincoln/Roosevelt Auditorium. This meeting is open to the public. Another special Board of Education meeting will be on the following day, Tuesday, January 23rd for additional board training on the superintendent’s evaluation. This meeting too is open to the public but will be held at Roxbury High School.

PHOTO ABOVE ATTACHED (courtesy of Roxbury Public Schools)

Chuck Seipp presents on the teacher evaluation process

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