At its August meeting, the State Board of Education heard updates and took actions on the following items:
Educational Facilities Regulations The State Board readopted, without amendments, the regulations concerning educational facilities so that they do not expire.
The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) will be proposing amendments in the future that incorporate the improvements made by the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act, including those to address safety, and the future projects and priorities of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (NJSDA). Those amendments will incorporate preschool facilities needs in light of recent statewide expansion efforts.
Finally, the NJDOE is mindful of evolving school facilities needs as school districts respond to the current COVID–19 public health emergency using the NJDOE’s “The Road Back: The Restart and Recovery Plan for Education” and the most recent science-based recommendations. Direct input and experiences from school district and public health officials will inform the NJDOE’s review of the rules as it considers long-term and forward-thinking ways to plan for, and react to, similar emergencies in the future. Drafting amendments to the chapter will require the NJDOE to work with the NJSDA, school districts, and other stakeholders directly involved in the safety, construction and financing of school facilities. The NJDOE anticipates presenting amendments to the State Board by the end of 2021.
Student Transportation The NJDOE proposes to update the rules regarding the transportation of students to and from school and school-related activities, governs contracts for student transportation, and delineates the NJDOE’s responsibilities in oversight of student transportation. The chapter is scheduled to expire on Sept. 12, 2020. Further amendments are proposed to enhance the ability of school districts to ensure the safe transportation of students and to clarify existing rules for the benefit of students, school districts, and school bus contractors.
Adult Education The NJDOE proposes to provide three pathways to a high school diploma for persons age 16 years or older. The first pathway allows persons age 16 years or older who are no longer enrolled in high school and are residents of New Jersey to earn a state-issued high school diploma by attending an adult education program that receives Title II funding under the Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and passing a New Jersey High School Equivalency Assessment (NJHSEA). The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development monitors adult education programs that receive Title II funding under the WIOA, but the NJDOE provides the state-issued high school diploma.
The second pathway enables persons age 16 years or older who are no longer enrolled in high school and are New Jersey residents to earn a state-issued high school diploma based on the evaluation of 30 credits of college coursework. The NJDOE evaluates the college coursework and provides the state-issued high school diploma. The third pathway allows persons age 16 years or older to earn a diploma by attending and graduating from one of the 11 adult high schools in New Jersey. District boards of education operate the adult high schools and award a state-endorsed high school diploma to adult high school graduates.
Teacher Assessment and Handbooks The State Board discussed a resolution continuing the requirements for the teacher performance assessment known as the edTPA. The edTPA is a digital portfolio that requires candidates to plan and teach lessons and assess student progress. Candidates seeking a Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS) must take and pass a commissioner-approved performance assessment. Candidates holding a Certificate of Eligibility (CE) or CE-Reciprocity (CE-R) and teaching provisionally must take and pass a commissioner-approved performance assessment as a program completion requirement for standard certification. As part of that resolution the State Board discussed permitting the Special Education edTPA handbook as an allowable option for teachers seeking the Teacher of Students with Disabilities (TOSD) endorsement.