At its February meeting, the New Jersey State Board of Education heard updates and acted on the following items.
- NJGPA Cut-off scores — Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz addressed the State Board expressing her concerns over the cutoff score for the New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment. Ruiz urged the State Board to make sure that the lower cutoff number from previous exams did not mean that the state was lowering standards for students overall. After much discussion among the board members concerning changing the cut-off score, the State Board passed an amendment to its resolution, making the cutoff score 750, rather than 725, as had been discussed at its January board meeting.
- New Jersey Career and Technical Education — The New Jersey Department of Education reviewed with the State Board the fundamental elements of the state’s career and technical education program. The NJDOE said that CTE is a coordinated nonduplicative sequence of academic and technical content at the secondary and postsecondary level that: incorporates challenging academic standards; addresses both academic and technical knowledge and skills; aligns to the needs of industries in the economy of the state, region, Tribal community, or local area; and, progresses in specificity. The State Board also passed a resolution in recognition of February as Career and Technical Education Month.
- Certification Pilot Program — The State Board also approved for publication a proposal for comment concerning a pilot program designed to ease teacher shortages in certain districts. The proposed regulations effectuate a new state law authorizing the development of a five-year pilot program for issuance of a limited certificate of eligibility and a limited certificate of eligibility with advanced standing in an instructional area for candidates who meet certain requirements. Limited CE and limited CEAS holders will only be eligible to teach in school districts, charter schools and renaissance school projects that apply to participate in the pilot program and are approved by the commissioner. The limited CE and limited CEAS will provide an on-ramp to the teaching profession by removing a barrier that may be preventing otherwise qualified potential teachers from earning a certificate. To maintain educator quality, limited CE and limited CEAS holders will be expected to meet the same educator preparation program requirements as candidates for a regular CE or CEAS.
Bridge Year Pilot Program — The State Board began discussing proposed rules to effectuate the purposes of – P.L. 2020, c. 41 which established a three-year Bridge Year Pilot Program under which each school district with a high school must offer students in the graduating classes of 2021 and 2022 the opportunity to pursue a bridge year during the year immediately following their senior year of high school. The Bridge Year Pilot Program will provide participating students with an additional year to address learning loss and missed opportunities in extracurricular activities, including spring sports programs, due to the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Qualified Zone Academy Bonds — The State Board proposed the readoption of regulations concerning a federal financing instrument that enables state and local governments, such as school districts, to borrow money from financial institutions at no interest for costs incurred to rehabilitate and repair schools, train teachers, develop curriculum, and invest in technology for “qualified zone academies” that serve large concentrations of low-income families. Federal code allocates to state education agencies the bond cap, which is the dollar limit on interest-free state bonding capacity that can be used to finance the costs at qualified zone academies; state education agencies, in turn, allocate the state bond cap to qualified zone academies within the state.