At its January meeting, in addition to noting New Jersey School Board Recognition month, the New Jersey State Board of Education heard updates and acted on the following items:

  • 2020-2021 Statewide Assessment Data Overview NJDOE staff reviewed with the State Board the results of the Spring 2021 Dynamic Learning Maps, Access for English Language Learners Assessment and the Fall 2021 Start Strong Assessment. The Dynamic Learning Maps Assessment is given to the 1% of special education students with the most significant intellectual disabilities. The DLM is administered in person without a remote option. The Access for English Language Learners assessment is also an in-person only test, given in grades K-12 to all ELLs. Because of the in-person nature of the test and the fact that not all districts had in person instruction in the spring of 2021, participation  was lower than in previous years.  The Start Strong Assessment is based on the prior year’s academic standards and is used to drive conversations about instruction with educators, parents and students. It provides a snapshot to help educators determine appropriate supports for each student. The results of the Start Strong assessment mirror national trends during the pandemic that show that elementary students need greater support than those in upper grades and that achievement gaps persist. This document provides detailed data on the plan.
  • Five-Year Limited CE/CEAS Teacher Pilot program The NJDOE outlined the requirements for a five-year pilot program pursuant to L. 2021, c. 224 which requires the NJDOE to establish a five-year pilot program for individuals to obtain a limited certificate of eligibility and limited certificate of eligibility with advanced standing in an instructional area, provided they meet the criteria established in the law. These limited certificates may only be utilized in certain districts approved by the commissioner to participate. A school district, charter school, or renaissance school seeking approval from the commissioner to hire teachers under this pilot program must demonstrate the capability to support new teachers and at least one of the following:
    • A demographic disparity between the district’s or school’s student population and teachers.
    • A shortage of bilingual education teachers.
    • A critical need to fill teacher vacancies or a hardship caused by teacher vacancies.
  • Appointments The State Board appointed the following individuals to the following positions:
    • Marianne Cappello, director, Office of Career Readiness
    • Katherine Czehut director, Office of Fiscal and Data Services
    • Azan Waddell, director, Office of Comprehensive Supports
    • Robert Gregory, executive director, Division of Field Support and Services

School District Operations The State Board discussed changes to the regulations concerning school district operations.  The changes include replacing the terms “auxiliary teacher” and “teacher aide” with “paraprofessional,” which is defined in N.J.A.C. 6A:32-2.1. This will provide greater clarity to school districts. Additionally, the State Board discussed changes under P.L.  2020, c. 27 concerning school district annual virtual or remote instruction plans. These plans must include how districts will:

  • Deliver instruction equitably and ensure access to virtual or remote instruction.
  • Address the needs of students with disabilities and English language learners.
  • Account for attendance during virtual or remote instruction.
  • Ensure safe delivery of meals.
  • Describe how the school district is communicating with the family when a student is not participating in online instruction.
  • Ensure the maintenance of buildings.
  • Address any district specific factors, such as accelerated learning, social and emotional health of staff and students, transportation, and extracurricular programs.

N.J. Graduation Proficiency Assessment The State Board continued discussion on a resolution to establish cut scores for the New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment. N.J.S.A. 18A:7C-1 requires the commissioner of education with the approval of the State Board of Education to establish a program of standards for graduation from secondary school. Such standards shall include but not be limited to the development of a statewide test in reading, writing and computational skills to be administered to all secondary school pupils as provided herein, and clear and explicit statewide levels of proficiency in reading, writing and computational skills to be demonstrated as a minimum requirement for high school graduation. The state graduation proficiency test shall be administered to all 11th grade pupils and to any 11th or 12th grade pupil who has previously failed to demonstrate mastery of state graduation proficiency standards. The State Board has proposed a cutoff score of 725 for English Language Arts and Mathematics. The State Board anticipates making a final decision on the cut score at its February meeting.