On Jan. 8, the New Jersey State Board of Education held its monthly meeting, heard updates and took action on the following matters:
- Paterson: Return to Local Control The state-operated district of Paterson is in the midst of a transition plan that began in September 2018 with full local control scheduled to be restored in September 2020. Pursuant to the Transition Plan, the NJDOE partnered with the Bloustein local government research center of Rutgers University to form a comprehensive accountability office (CAO). The CAO is responsible for collecting and publishing data that demonstrates whether the district is making “substantial and sustainable” progress on its metrics. Additionally, Paterson has three “highly-skilled professionals” provided by the NJDOE to assist the district with the plan.
- Adult Education The State Board of Education discussed adjusting the passing score for one of the three pathways for adults to receive their high school diploma. The approved tests and associated vendors are:
- GED – General Education Development (Pearson), which was the only assessment in years prior, but is now updated to align to the Common Core State Standards.
- HiSET – High School Equivalency Test (ETS).
- TASC – Test Assessing Secondary Completion (McGraw Hill, which is now known as Data Recognition Corporation (DRC).
The NJDOE is proposing lowering the passing score for these tests to be in line with scores required by other states that offer these tests.
- Lead in Drinking Water The NJDOE is proposing to readopt with amendments the rules concerning lead in drinking water. Among the proposed amendments, the NJDOE will increase the frequency of testing to every three years, which will ensure that schools remain vigilant in monitoring drinking water outlets and that the time students and staff could be exposed to undetected elevated lead levels is limited. A three-year testing cycle also is consistent with the federally required monitoring schedule for lead and copper in schools that have their own water systems. The proposed amendments will also require that all school districts conduct testing in the same school year (that is, the 2021-2022 school year and every three years thereafter), which will simplify compliance for school districts and the NJDOE, and make the reimbursement for required testing more predictable for budgetary planning purposes.
- Educator Effectiveness The NJDOE is proposing to readopt with amendments the rules concerning educator evaluation. Specifically, the NJDOE proposes two amendments: to update the standards to which all principal evaluation instruments must be aligned, and to change the date by which all evaluation rubrics must be submitted to the commissioner for approval.
- Student Learning Standards–The State Board discussed the readoption of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards with revisions including the science, social studies, comprehensive health and physical education, visual and performing arts, world languages, and 21st century life and careers. The NJDOE is revising the standards to include standards at every grade or grade band that explicitly address climate change. The revisions will provide guidance to districts describing the role that each content area has in preparing students to address climate change as part of a career choice or as part of a local or global community initiative.