At its monthly meeting, the State Board of Education heard updates and took action on the following items:
- Waiver RequestActing Commissioner of Education Angelica Allen-McMillan announced that the USDOE has permitted the state to suspend its standardized Student Learning Assessments for the second year, due to the many challenges to carrying out such testing during the COVID-19 pandemic. In its letter, the federal Department of Education said the state’s plan to conduct a shorter test in the fall — called “Start Strong” — would suffice in meeting federal requirements for annual testing, as long as districts continue less formal, in-class assessments this spring as well. Allen-McMillan said that further guidance would be forthcoming on this issue. Several days after the State Board meeting, during a Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing, state Sen. Teresa Ruiz raised questions about whether the Start Strong assessment was an adequate replacement for the usual standardized tests, and Allen-McMillan said dialogue with the federal government was continuing. For further information, see the related story in today’s School Board Notes.
- Resolution in Recognition of School Library Month The State Board passed a resolution recognizing School Library Month in New Jersey. School libraries and their librarians help to guide activities and encourage content area and recreational reading. School libraries nurture the social and emotional growth of students by providing a collection of resources and instruction in order for students to develop knowledge, empathy, responsible decision-making and relationship skills. School librarians were able to pivot their practice during a time of remote learning to provide assistance to not only their students but also their colleagues and communities as they navigated a new educational paradigm to ensure that schools had the tools necessary to be successful. School libraries and certified school library media specialists are instrumental in helping school districts to not only meet New Jersey Student Learning Standards but also prepare New Jersey students with college- and career-readiness skills.
- Resolution in Recognition of Better Hearing and Speech Month The State Board recognized that many students have communication challenges and acknowledged the significance that the ability to communicate plays in building personal and societal relationships as students grow and mature. Better Hearing and Speech Month is a time to raise awareness about communication disorders and to encourage children and families to receive appropriate screenings and evaluations. The board acknowledged that Better Hearing and Speech Month is also a time to recognize the hard work of audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists and the contributions they make that remarkably affect the lives of students in New Jersey.
- Report of the CommissionsNJDOE staff gave a brief update on four commissions: The Amistad, Italian American, Holocaust, and the Latino Hispanic Heritage commissions. All help to guide the NJDOE’s efforts to raise awareness and develop curriculum concerning these important areas of study.
- New Jersey Student Learning Standards Postponement—The State Board discussed a resolution to delay the adoption of revised New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Visual and Performing Arts, Comprehensive Health and Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, and Computer Science and Design Thinking, World Languages and Career Readiness, Life Literacies, and Key Skills by September 2022.