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Christie Administration Launches New Educator Resource Exchange Website for Teachers

For Immediate Release Contact: Mike Yaple
Rich Vespucci
Date: November 18, 2013 609-292-1126

The Christie Administration today announced the launch of a new website that will, over time, provide teachers with a massive inventory of resources they can use in the classroom as they implement the Common Core State Standards. The New Jersey Educator Resource Exchange is the first state-level exchange in the nation that allows teachers to search for, download and contribute instructional, assessment and professional development content.

"The richness and value of this initiative stems from the partnership it forms with our teachers and other educators to develop and share lesson plans, assessment items, homework assignments and other educational resources," said Education Commissioner Chris Cerf. "Resources are organized by standard, substandard and unit. So, for example, a fifth-grade teacher focusing on a concept such as adding fractions with unlike denominators could, with a single click, access materials directly relevant to that topic." 

"In generations past, teachers often turned to colleagues or textbooks for classroom materials, or they created the materials themselves," Cerf continued. "Now they will be able to tap into the knowledge of thousands of their colleagues throughout the state."

The website comes with more than 2,000 pre-loaded instructional materials that have been curated by Department of Education staff. The content includes lesson plans, videos, classroom activities, slideshows, curriculum guides, quizzes and tests. Only New Jersey educators will be able to register to access all the features. Citizens will be able to access the website – which can provide parents with resources to help their children studying at home – but they will not be able to upload or rate materials.

"We've taken design cues from successful websites such as Amazon and Yelp, which allow customers to easily search for items and rate their experiences," said Cerf. "Similarly, New Jersey's Educator Resource Exchange website allows teachers to navigate for content aligned with Common Core standards, and then rate their success in the classroom after they've used the materials."

The site is the first state-level website of its kind in the nation. Other states offer resource websites for teachers with a more top-down approach where the state decides the material that teachers may access. In addition, some private organizations have created teacher-resource exchange websites, but such sites are limited to members of the organization or, conversely, allow any person to submit materials. New Jersey's is the first state website to offer a teacher-resource exchange that leverages content submitted by educators. The Department will continue to add content to the site, as well.

The Educator Resource Exchange is entirely free and voluntary for all New Jersey educators. In addition to allowing teachers to rate materials submitted by their peers, a panel of 32 educators selected by the DOE will endorse exemplary submissions. Teachers can create a feed that will automatically filter and send materials with pre-set criteria, such as activities specifically for a high-school algebra class.

The Common Core State Standards outline what students should know and be able to do in math and language arts. The standards – created by a consortium of states – are designed to better prepare students for college and career. For the first time, educational standards are comparable across state lines. To date, 45 states have adopted the Common Core standards; New Jersey adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010. Because the new website is aligned to both the Common Core and New Jersey's Core Curriculum Content Standards, it also includes subjects such as science and social studies.

 "We have listened to the concerns of teachers who have told us they need to be provided with the tools to help them align their classroom instruction with the new standards," said Cerf. "While we are pleased to launch this website, we also understand that it's a good first step, and it will only truly make a difference if educators upload their own documents and utilize its full potential."

In addition to the new Educator Resource Exchange website, the state Department of Education has supported the transition to Common Core by conducting more than 500 trainings, reaching 15,000 educators just in the past several months. The Department has provided district support through Common Core Implementation Teams that serve as conduits for communication between the DOE and stakeholder groups. In addition, intensive support has been provided to teachers, coaches and administrators in all RAC schools, which included professional development, differentiated supports and resources.

The DOE has also posted a K-12 Model Curriculum of student learning objectives for English language arts and math, which includes formative unit assessments for each six-week unit, including scaffolds for students who are English Language Learners. The Department has posted model curricula and formative assessments for health and physical education, world languages, social studies and visual/performing arts.