The Teaneck School Board held a special public meeting on August 16th, focusing on developing district and board goals for the upcoming 2023-24 school year. The meeting, facilitated by Mr. Matt Lee from the New Jersey School Board Association, was an opportunity for the board and Superintendent Dr. Andre Spencer to outline their vision for the district.
The board’s discussion centered on academic achievement and improving communication with stakeholders. They outlined five key areas of district goals: academic achievement, communications, professional learning, innovation and special projects, and safety and security.
Dr. Spencer presented a theory of action framework developed with campus administration to set expectations for Teaneck Public School graduates. The framework serves as a guide for goal setting and expectations for student success. The board aims to increase the percentage of students in levels four and five in mathematics from 35.1% to 40.6%, targeting a 5.5% growth. The growth percentage was determined by comparing the performance data from the 2022-2023 school year to this year’s performance.
The board discussed the use of state test scores as a metric for measuring academic achievement. While some members raised concerns about the accuracy of state test scores, others argued that they serve as an indicator of the district’s performance relative to other districts in Bergen County.
The board stressed the need for differentiation of instruction and assessments and emphasized the importance of considering students across all levels to achieve the targeted goals. A discussion on increasing the number of students participating in Advanced Placement (AP) and advanced courses in high school also took place, with some members arguing that it would be a better indicator of academic achievement.
Improving communication with stakeholders was another key focus of the meeting. The board agreed that getting more favorable responses via surveys would ensure that stakeholders understand the district’s goals and that the communication is consistent and accurate.
The board discussed teacher clarity and professional development as essential for classroom practices. The focus should be on changing practices rather than evaluating instructors. Special projects, such as the possible implementation of an international baccalaureate program, were discussed, with an emphasis on out-of-school learning experiences like internships or externships.
Addressing safety and security, the board highlighted the need to reduce out-of-school suspension time by addressing student behaviors through restorative practices and social-emotional aspects, keeping students engaged in classrooms, after-school programs, or internships/externships.
The meeting also addressed mandatory training for board members, governance, board goals, committee goals, and a possible referendum. The board discussed the upcoming departure of some experienced members and proposed four potential goals for the next year, including board self-evaluation, professional development for board members, learning more about bonding to address long-term facility issues, and considering conducting a referendum for additional funds.
The board plans to assign the task of creating a board handbook for new board members to a committee, given the influx of new members over the past few years. They will consider consulting other districts for similar projects and evaluate communication policies to identify any gaps.
A public meeting is scheduled for August 23rd at Teaneck High School.