Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Percentage of Highly Effective Teachers in New Jersey Released: Results for Hudson County, New Jersey

Old time light up Santa in Hoboken, NJ (2015)
Whether we are parents, taxpayers, policy makers, or educators, we all want highly effective teachers in our classrooms teaching our children. Recently the New Jersey Department of Education released data on teacher and principal effectiveness. Recently NJPATCH posted the results (from highest to lowest) of high performing teachers in the State of New Jersey. The report was complied by an award winning journalist. This information was picked up by a blogger in Bayonne, NJ and many other journalists and policy people around New Jersey including NJ.COM.

More information of the new staff evaluation system (TEACHNJ Act and N.J.S.A.18A:6-120) can be found at the New Jersey Department of Education website. It is worth noting that suppressed records are indicated by an (*). Records that have an n of less than 10 are suppressed (e.g., if 9 or fewer teachers/staff received a rating of Ineffective, the record is suppressed).

Therefore wherever there is an (*) you can assume the number of teachers in that category is less than 10 or falls somewhere between 0 to 9 teachers. Giving the full benefit of a doubt, the chart below replaces every (*) in the Highly Effective category (High_EFF) with a (9) representing 9 possible teachers or the maximum number from the 0-9 range. As mentioned, this is the maximum possible suppressed number which warrants an (*).

What are the teacher evaluations based upon? Well, according to NJ.COM, 85% of the evaluation was based on observations of local administrators directly overseeing the teachers:
“Most teachers’ evaluations were based on the following: 85 percent on observations by administrators and 15 percent on student growth on local tests, quizzes or other projects. About 15 percent of teachers had their scores based 55 percent on observation, 15 percent on student progress on local tests and 30 percent on students’ annual improvement on state standardized tests.” -NJ.com 
A number of individuals requested a compilation of Highly Effective Teacher percentages for districts in Hudson County, New Jersey. 

HARRISON TOWN * * 56 92 149 61.74%
EAST NEWARK BORO * * 15 * 18 50.00%
SECAUCUS TOWN * * 85 74 160 46.25%
HUDSON COUNTY VOCATIONAL * * 148 63 211 29.86%
WEST NEW YORK TOWN * * 389 160 553 28.93%
GUTTENBERG TOWN * * 55 14 72 19.44%
NORTH BERGEN TWP * * 461 103 567 18.17%
UNION CITY * 11 566 86 663 12.97%
KEARNY TOWN * * 386 42 429 9.79%
WEEHAWKEN TWP * * 95 * 107 8.41%
JERSEY CITY * * 1824 106 2043 5.19%
HOBOKEN CITY * 11 157 * 177 5.08%
BAYONNE CITY * * 657 14 679 2.06%

Legend: INEFF= Ineffective Teachers; Part_EFF= Partially Effective Teachers; EFF= Effective Teachers; 

High_EFF= Highly Effective; Total= Total Number of Teachers in District; High EFF%= Percent of

Highly Effective Teachers

Sunday, December 27, 2015

2-Tier Terrarium Blog of Pre-service Elementary Teachers

terrarium is a type of miniature ecosystem of plants. Terrariums are usually sealable glass containers that can be opened for maintenance and to access the plants inside. However, this is not essential; terrariums can also be made using other transparentmaterials, and some are open to the atmosphere rather than being sealed. Terrariums are often kept as decorative or ornamental items in the same way as aquariums.
Closed terrariums create a unique environment for plant growth, as the transparent walls allow for both heat and light to enter the terrarium. The sealed container combined with the heat entering the terrarium allows for the creation of a small scale water cycle. This happens because moisture from both the soil and plants evaporates in the elevated temperatures inside the terrarium. This water vapour then condenses on the walls of the container, and eventually falls back to the plants and soil below. This contributes to creating an ideal environment for growing plants due to the constant supply of water, thereby preventing the plants from becoming over dry. In addition to this, the light that passes through the transparent material of the terrarium allows for the plants within to photosynthesis, an important aspect of plant growth.

Cohort H


Cohort M 


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Being bilingual could double your chances of recovering from a stroke

The benefits of bilingualism are seemingly endless. There are the linguistic and social skills that come from switching between multiple languages and cultures, and there is an emerging body of research on the impact it can have on our cognitive abilities.

A new study now suggests that the practice of speaking two languages could also help protect the brain in the event of a stroke.

Researchers from the UK and India studied more than 600 stroke patients in Hyderabad, India—a city in which multiple languages are commonly spoken—and found that those who spoke more than one language had double the chance of recovering from the condition than those who spoke only one language.

Cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and visuospatial skills were examined. Even after taking into account variables such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and age, the researchers found that 40% of the bilingual subjects recovered their normal cognitive function following a stroke, versus 20% of the monolingual patients.

Thomas Bak, a professor at the University of Edinburgh and a co-author of the study, explains:

Bilingualism makes people to switch from one language to another, so while they inhibit one language, they have to activate another to communicate. This switching offers practically constant brain training which may be a factor in helping stroke patients recover.
Previous work by the same set of researchers in 2013 found that bilingual people who develop dementia tend to do so up to five years later than those who are monolingual. However, despite the initially positive outcomes of these two studies, researchers note that “more is needed to determine the exact circumstances under which bilingualism can have a positive influence on mental functions.”

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Charter lottery favors low-income kids to break cycle of poverty- NJ.COM (Laura Herzog & Adam Clark)

Pictured, an HoLa math class. HoLa Charter School announced
a new raffle method, giving priority to low-income children,
on Wednesday. (Laura Herzog | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
HOBOKEN — Barbara Martinez, the board president of Hoboken's K-8 Spanish and English bilingual education charter school HoLa, was a straight-A student at Newark public schools before she headed to New York University.
"When I got to college after going through Newark public schools, I nearly flunked out (the first year) because I was so unprepared," she recalled. "I didn't know I was unprepared until I got to college."
Though she did graduate and eventually became an editor and reporter at The Wall Street Journal until 2011, she said, "I was lucky, but in this country only 13 percent of Hispanic students graduate from college."
HoLa announced Wednesday that the state recently approved its plan to make its Jan. 15 admission lottery favor low-income students, like Martinez once was, for the first time. It's a move HoLa officials believe could help end the cycle of poverty.
Red Bank Charter School in Monmouth County also announced this week that it will also ask the state for permission to hold a weighted enrollment lottery. 
For the past two years, charter schools involved in universal enrollment in Newark have already had a weighted lottery for students qualifying for free lunch, according to state Department of Education spokesman Michael Yaple. HoLa, he said, is "the first charter school to independently be granted a waiver outside of Newark's district-wide lottery system."
It's a notable shift for charters, publicly funded and independently operated schools that critics have argued tend to serve fewer economically disadvantaged students than the traditional public schools in the same communities. 
On Wednesday, HoLa officials argued that they already have diversity mirroring Hoboken's population, but want to do even better.
"After three years of trying to get approval by the New Jersey Department of Education, we are delighted to be able to finally offer low-income families in Hoboken an additional opportunity to attend our school," said Founder and Executive Director of HoLa Jennifer Sargent. 
New Jersey's largest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association, has been calling for charter schools to make sure they have all types of students, spokesman Steve Baker said.
"One of our big concerns with some charter schools has been that they don't always serve a representative student population that reflects the community why they are located," he said. 
For HoLa's lottery, a public and audited event, the school assigns numbered cards to applicants, officials said. Those cards then go in a box and are randomly chosen, officials said. This year, students from low-income families (those either in Hoboken public housing, Section 8 housing; or with a child or guardian qualifying for SNAP/TANF benefits; or already qualifying for public school free or reduced price lunch) will get two cards instead of one, Martinez said.
President and CEO of the The New Jersey Charter Schools Association Nicole Cole said in a statement that her organization "fully supports Hoboken Dual Language Charter School in their tireless effort to ensure that every student in Hoboken has equitable access to an excellent education."
"HoLa is a pioneer in pursuing the weighted lottery," she said.
"I am proud of the work that our charters are doing to bring choice to Hoboken families," said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. "I congratulate HoLa on this historic step to make sure all families in Hoboken are aware of their school choices."
HoLa, which opened in 2010 and provides dual Spanish and English instruction in all subjects to about 400 students, most of whom officials said speak English at home, has previously faced opposition from some members of the Hoboken school board.
The board launched a lawsuit against the school in 2014 to reverse a state-approved expansion to include 7th and 8th grades, citing funding and diversity concerns. The lawsuit that is now in appellate court, school officials said. 
Hoboken Superintendent Christine Johnson has not yet responded to a request for comment on the move, but some locals argue it could have a big impact.
"Study after study after study tells us that the cycle of poverty is broken by high-quality education," Martinez said.
HoLa parent David Celiberti, a psychologist who works with underserved students in rural communities, noted that HoLa parents have been going into public housing for years to tell parents about HoLa.
"I am a big proponent of ensuring that everyone has access," he said. "We live in a really big diverse world and I want my son to be exposed to the full array of people who make up his community. I think that's what makes Hoboken such a great place."
Reporting contributed by Adam Clark.
Laura Herzog may be reached at lherzog@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @LauraHerzogL. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hola Becomes the First Independent Charter School in NJ to offer a lottery preference for low-income families

Hola Press Conference 12/16/15- Hoboken, NJ
The Hola Dual Language charter school in Hoboken will be the first charter school in New Jersey to offer a low-income preference in the lottery in 2016. An announcement was made earlier today, Wednesday December 16, 2015. This lottery preference is not a response to the litigation that the Hoboken District has brought against our school. HoLa first asked for a preference in the lottery three years ago, well before the litigation was filed. 
As you may recall, the original concept for HoLa in 2008 was a strand within the district, housed at Connors, the Hoboken public school with the highest concentration of low income students. It was only after the local school board first approved, and then denied, the program that the founders sought a charter from the state. 

Our resolve to be an inclusive public school never wavered, and we have sought a low-income preference since 2013. Last year, the Hoboken District opposed our request for a lottery preference. The New Jersey Department of Education approved the request this month
We are incredibly proud of our diversity and want to stress that at last count, HoLa continues to reflect the demographics of the city as a whole, including in terms of percentage of low income population. However, we believe that as one of many public schools in the city, we ought to help ensure that low-income families have access to all of the choices. -Barbara Martinez 
Hola Board President Barbara Martinez and
Freeholder Anthony Romano

Monday, December 14, 2015

STEM Integration: A Study examining the enactment of prescribed Research Based Engineering Curriculum (Petrosino, Gustafson, and Shekhar, in press)

415 Monroe Street- Hoboken, NJ
Birthplace of Frank Sinatra
Abstract: K-12 engineering is a critical platform for achieving integrated science, technology, engineering, and math STEM teaching and learning in the Unites States. This has fueled research in the development and testing of integrated STEM curricula. This study examines the contrasting ways in which a prescribed curriculum is translated into practice. The study examines the implementation of 12-week secondary engineering unit (helmet design) by a teacher with high content knowledge in engineering in a rural/suburban school with 20 students. The unit was designed with significant input from a university based team including content experts, learning scientists, master teachers, classroom teachers, and school district administrators as part of a grant focused on the creation of a high school engineering course. Five strands were identified in the unit for analysis: assessment, activities, apparatus, technology, and standards. 

Petrosino, A. J., Gustafson, K. A., and Shekhar, P. (in press). STEM Integration in a Research Based Engineering Curriculum Using Enacted and Prescribed Frames. International Journal of Engineering Education.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Top Ten Innovating Pedagogies for 2015

Innovating Pedagogy 2015 introduces ten pedagogies—methods and practices for teaching—that already influence educational practice or offer opportunities for the future. By ‘innovative pedagogies,’ we mean theories and practices of teaching, learning and assessment for the modern, technology-enabled world.

The ten pedagogies covered in the 2015 report are:
  1. Crossover learning: connecting formal and informal learning
  2. Learning through argumentation: developing skills of scientific argumentation
  3. Incidental learning: harnessing unplanned or unintentional learning
  4. Context-based learning: how context shapes and is shaped by the process of learning
  5. Computational thinking: solving problems using techniques from computing
  6. Learning by doing science with remote labs: guided experiments on authentic scientific equipment
  7. Embodied learning: making mind and body work together to support learning
  8. Adaptive teaching: adapting computer-based teaching to the learner’s knowledge and action
  9. Analytics of emotions: responding to the emotional states of students
  10. Stealth assessment: unobtrusive assessment of learning processes
SRI Education researchers have been collaborating with their counterparts at the Open University for over a decade to connect educational research-based insights from across the U.S. and U.K. on topics such as social learning, citizen science, and learning at scale.
SRI has a lead role in running the Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning for the National Science Foundation and this report now engages leading international experts on technology-enhanced learning in the Center's work on the future of learning.
- See even more at: https://www.sri.com/blog/innovating-pedagogies-sri-education-and-uks-open-university-uncover-ten-trends#sthash.qOh8STvW.dpuf

Monday, December 7, 2015

Full Hoboken Board of Education Agenda: December 8, 2015

Thursday, December 3, 2015

NJ Teacher Effectiveness Report Released- "Ineffective" Results For State and Low Scoring Districts Reported by Hoboken Patch.com

Nazi Germany Refugees head to berth in Hoboken, NJ 1938
This is a follow up to an earlier post on the new teacher effectiveness measures initiated by the New Jersey Department of Education. As you may recall, the New Jersey Department of Education has come up with a list that was developed under a new teacher and administrator evaluation system, with educators in the 2013-14 school year graded on a scale of four measures: "ineffective", "partially effective", "effective", and "highly effective"). Evaluation data of a particular employee is confidential in accordance with the TEACHNJ Act and N.J.S.A.18A:6-120, is not to be made accessible to the public pursuant to the Open Public Records Act, and will not be released. Thus, data made available does not include anything personally identifiable to a teacher or principal/AP/VP (there is also a state evaluation system for administrators). 
To be clear, any attempt to evaluate teacher effectiveness is subjected to criticism and the TEACHNJ Act certainly has received its share of critiques. But it should be made clear that for the vast majority of NJ teachers their ratings came from observations by teachers own district administrators:
Most teachers’ evaluations were based on the following: 85 percent on observations by administrators and 15 percent on student growth on local tests, quizzes or other projects. About 15 percent of teachers had their scores based 55 percent on observation, 15 percent on student progress on local tests and 30 percent on students’ annual improvement on state standardized tests.” -NJ.com
Here are the results for the 2013-14 Summative Categories for New Jersey's 113,000 teachers:

Data: NJ Department of Education
According to Hoboken Patch.com, here is the list of districts with the number of teachers identified as “partially effective” (as well as “ineffective” teachers), in order based on percentage of faculty

1. WANAQUE: 14, 15.5 percent
2. PATERSON: 298 (20 “ineffecitve”), 14.9 percent
3. CAMDEN: 149 (11 “ineffective”), 14.6 percent
4. LONG BRANCH: 66, 14.8 percent
5. IRVINGTON: 68 13.8 percent
6. NEWARK: 314 (94 “ineffective”), 11.3 percent
7. DOVER: 20, 9.5 percent
8. ORANGE: 39, 9.24 percent
9. CENTRAL REGIONAL: 13, 9.21 percent
10. EAST ORANGE: 80 9.22 percent
11. PLAINFIELD: 48, 8.7 percent
12. SALEM: 10, 8.4 percent
13. WILLINGBORO: 18, 8.3 percent
14. ROSELLE BORO: 17, 7.05 percent
15. ENGLEWOOD: 20, 7.4 percent
16. WEST MORRIS REGIONAL: 13, 6.3 percent
17. HOBOKEN CITY: 11, 6.2 percent
18. NUTLEY: 16, 5.9 percent
19. BLACK HORSE PIKE REGIONAL: 15, 5.5 percent
20. ASBURY PARK: 10, 5.1 percent

Statewide, the average percentage of New Jersey teachers identified as “ineffective” is 2.5% while according to Patch.com in Hoboken the percentage of teachers identified as "ineffective" was 6.2%. Statewide, there are 591 operating school districts in New Jersey (not including charter districts). According to Patch.com, Hoboken had the 17th highest percentage of teachers identified as "ineffective."

Here is the NJDOE Teacher Effectiveness data for teachers in Hudson County: 
Click to Enlarge (* indicates less than 10 teachers)

The New Jersey Department of Education (“the Department”) has created this document to serve as a general guide to the "Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey" Act (TEACHNJ Act ). 

Overall, more than 97 percent of New Jersey 113,000 teachers received either highly effective or effective ratings for 2013-14, the state announced in June. The percentage of of teachers who received negative ratings rose from about 0.8 percent in 2012-13 to 2.5 percent under the new system. 

Teacher evaluation guidelines for 2014-15- CLICK HERE  
Related Link: More N.J. teachers get poor ratings 
Related Link: SEARCH: See how N.J. Teachers are rated in each school  
Related Link: Which N. J. School Districts Have the Most "Ineffective" Teachers? 
Related Link: Guidelines for Teacher Effectiveness (NJDOE-2012)