In addition to passing its resolution in honor of New Jersey School Board Recognition Month, the New Jersey State Board of Education heard updates and acted on the following items at its Jan. 11 meeting:
- 2021-2022 Start Strong Assessment Presentation — The New Jersey Department of Education staff informed the State Board about the results of the Start Strong Assessment that was given to students in fall 2022. From 2021 to 2022, the data show improvements in mathematics performance, which may be a leading indicator of rebounding from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The percent of students who need the most support is greater in math and science compared with English/language arts. The statewide results also show that the economically disadvantaged, English language learners and students with disabilities require stronger support than other students.
- Bilingual Education — The State Board approved a proposal concerning bilingual education. All school districts are required to provide students who are identified as multilingual learners with the services they need to meet or exceed the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. These regulations describe the school district’s specific obligations to support multilingual learners. The chapter’s general provisions include definitions of terms related to bilingual education, the process for identifying students who may be multilingual learners, placement of multilingual learners in language instruction educational programs and the process for discharging a student from the program and multilingual identification status. The chapter also includes connections to other chapters in Title 6A of the New Jersey Administrative Code, which apply to all students. N.J.A.C. 6A:15 provides requirements for school districts to engage families, including notification of their children’s identification and placement into a language instruction educational program, as well as the opportunity to be a part of the parent advisory committee. The proposed amendments will also ensure clarity in how bilingual education requirements intersect with general school district requirements related to inclusion, curriculum, equity, standards and educator certification by connecting N.J.A.C. 6A:15 with other chapters in Title 6A of the New Jersey Administrative Code (namely N.J.A.C. 6A:7, Managing for Equality and Equity in Education, N.J.A.C. 6A:8, Standards and Assessment, and N.J.A.C. 6A:9B, State Board of Examiners and Certification). These connections will help school districts better understand how the services and programs they provide multilingual learners are aligned to the systems that school districts already have in place for all students.
- Equality and Equity in Education – The State Board discussed proposed updates to the rules governing equality and equity in educational programs to guarantee each student equal access to all educational programs, services and benefits of the school district regardless of the student’s race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, religion, disability, or socioeconomic status. The rules also provide an objective basis for evaluating a school district’s progress toward equality and equity in educational programs and provide the basis for district boards of education to identify areas in which technical assistance may be needed. The rules directly impact students by ensuring school districts provide for their basic rights to equitable treatment and services and to a quality education.