On Feb. 1, at its regular monthly meeting, the State Board of Education voted 6-2 to reject a pilot program proposed by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) that would have permitted certain charter schools to employ teachers, business administrators and principals using alternative certification pathways that are different from current pathways.

In its testimony before the State Board, NJSBA raised concerns about these alternative pathways and whether they were needed at this time. Due in part to NJSBA’s testimony, the State Board determined not to move forward with the certification pilot program as part of the regulations.  The remainder of the charter school proposal continues to move forward. A copy of NJSBA’s testimony can be found here. The text of the current charter proposal can be found online here. The NJDOE is accepting comments on the proposal at this link.

Private Schools for Students with Disabilities The State Board also continued its discussion on a proposal concerning approved private schools for students with disabilities (APSSDs). The proposed rules seek to streamline and increase flexibility for APSSDs by tying into a modern data collection system that will assist the NJDOE with its monitoring responsibilities, give APSSDs a useful budgeting and planning tool, and bring greater accountability to APSSD operations. The full proposal is available online; to comment or provide feedback on the proposal to NJDOE, use this link.

Jersey City Progress Report The State Board received its annual report on progress in the state-operated district of Jersey City.  The district of nearly 28,000 students has a 74.9 percent graduation rate, up from a graduation rate of 67.2 percent in 2012. Three of its eight high schools have a 100 percent graduation rate. The district continues to work on decreasing its achievement gap and decreasing the number of dropouts.  The district also continues to increase its STEM and career and technical education initiatives, and has undertaken facilities work, renovating several schools in the district. Jersey City also continues on the path to local control.  The full Jersey City report can be found here.

Agricultural Education in the State The State Board also received a report from the New Jersey chapter of Future Farmers of America.  This agricultural sciences organization has approximately 2400 members across the state with 649,000 members nationwide.  There are 45 approved agricultural education programs in 32 New Jersey school districts. Since 2009, 35 teachers from 21 New Jersey agricultural science education programs have transformed their agriculture programs from ‘traditional’ horticulture or agriculture programs to academically/STEM-infused agricultural science programs using the national Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) program. More about the use of STEM in the agricultural sciences can be found here.