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SECONDARY EDUCATION INITIATIVE MOVING AHEAD

The Secondary Education Initiative (SEI), launched last Fall to bring college prep curriculum, small learning environments and family support to all Abbott students in grades 6-12, has been moving forward in a variety of ways:

  • On January 31st, some 350 people attended the second statewide network meeting for SEI planning teams. Abbott districts sent middle school and high school teams to attend workshops on secondary literacy, improving curriculum, implementing small learning communities, and developing a family advocate system in secondary schools. District teams shared progress and challenges in implementing the SEI. The next statewide network meeting is scheduled for April 25, and will include a focus on budget planning and equity issues. 
  • On January 27th, the Public Education Institute and ELC co-sponsored a forum on secondary reform at Rutgers Livingston Campus. Over 130 parents, educators, NJEA representatives, administrators and others heard presentations from Dr. Penelope Lattimer, SEI Director and DOE chief of staff; Dr. Michelle Fine, Graduate Center, City University of New York; and Stan Karp, Director, Secondary Reform Project at ELC. They also heard from students at Long Branch High School, and several members of the SEI Advisory Group about secondary reform issues and activities.
  • The Community Foundation of New Jersey has awarded a $25,000 grant to ELC to facilitate a youth leadership and research project tied to the secondary reform. The grant will support the creation of two teams of student researchers in Jersey City and Orange, both "phase one" districts leading SEI implementation. The students will develop and complete a research project linked to issues that the secondary reform is designed to address and present their findings and recommendations to staff, community and education groups. St. Peter’s College, CUNY and ELC are collaborating with the two districts on the effort.
  • Free technical assistance on facilities planning for small learning communities is now available to Abbott districts. With support from the Schumann Fund of New Jersey, the Center for Architecture and Building Sciences Research at the New Jersey Institute for Technology, in partnership with ELC, can provide architectural designers and education programmers to help develop conversion projects and other facilities planning at no cost to the district. For information contact: Herb Simmens at NJIT, HSimmens@aol.com, 973-596-3099.
  • Two national consultants with experience in supporting secondary reform have been working in various districts to support SEI implementation. The Institute for Research and Reform in Education (IRRE) has been providing technical assistance and professional development in the "phase one" districts -- Orange, Jersey City and Elizabeth. IRRE is also working with the SEI team in the NJDOE Abbott Division to build state level capacity to support ongoing implementation. High Schools That Work has been working with ten districts to review curricula and course outlines to upgrade the academic level of required core courses. For more info, see the SEI Implementation Calendar.
  • The next meeting of the SEI Advisory Group is scheduled for Feb. 9 from 3:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m at the NJDOE offices in Trenton. (List of Advisory Group members.)
  • The ELC Secondary Reform Project has been conducting ongoing outreach and informational activities to support the initiative. On December 13th, an information and discussion session was held at ELC for parents, community and union representatives, educators and advocates. The ELC presentation on the secondary reform is available at a new Secondary Education Initiative page on ELC’s website, as are the SEI regulations and other information about the reform.

For more information about SEI, contact skarp@edlawcenter.org, 973-624-1815, Ext. 42.