At its June meeting, the State Board of Education heard updates and took action on the following items:
New Jersey Student Learning Standards—The State Board of Education issued revised standards including expectations for addressing climate change as the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) seeks for New Jersey to continue preparing students to be problem-solvers, critical thinkers, consumers of information, and innovators. The climate change expectations will be woven throughout the curriculum, and First Lady Tammy Murphy thanked the State Board for including climate change.
As part of the Health and Physical Education standards listed below, the board, after considerable discussion, also updated standards for sex education or “social and sexual health.” The new standards call for fifth graders to be taught that “all individuals should feel welcome and included regardless of their gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation.” Under the new standards, eighth graders will be taught that “inclusive schools and communities are accepting of all people and make them feel welcome and included.”
Below are the updated standards and summaries of the changes.
Career and Technical Education Amendments –The NJDOE noted that Career and Technical Education (CTE) has evolved in significant ways since the chapter’s last readoption on September 12, 2013. Increasingly, New Jersey schools and school districts are offering programs in high skill, high wage sectors, through innovative models, including pre-apprenticeship, dual enrollment, and work-based learning that lead to industry-valued credentials or college credits while still in high school. In addition, the NJDOE has focused on supporting school districts to ensure all New Jersey students have equitable access to high-quality CTE to achieve academic and career success aligned to economic opportunities. During the last year, the department worked vigorously on the State’s Perkins V plan, which was adopted by the State Board on April 1, 2020. The board readopted Chapter 19 without amendments to ensure the chapter does not expire.
Adult Education—The State Board discussed three pathways to a high school diploma for persons age 16 years or older. The first pathway allows persons age 16 years or older who are no longer enrolled in high school to earn a state-issued high school diploma by attending an adult education program that receives Title II funding under the Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and passing a New Jersey High School Equivalency Assessment. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development monitors adult education programs that receive Title II funding under the WIOA, but the NJDOE provides the state-issued high school diploma.
The second pathway enables persons age 16 years or older who are no longer enrolled in high school to earn a state-issued high school diploma based on the evaluation of 30 credits of college coursework. The NJDOE evaluates the college coursework and provides the state-issued high school diploma.
The third pathway allows persons age 16 years or older to earn a state-endorsed diploma by attending and graduating from one of the 11 adult high schools in New Jersey. District boards of education operate the adult high schools and award a state-endorsed high school diploma to adult high school graduates.
Student Transportation—The State Board discussed standards for training and hiring of drivers as a result of changes in law. Further amendments are proposed to enhance the ability of school districts to ensure the safe transportation of students and to clarify existing rules for the benefit of students, school districts, and school bus contractors. The changes include the installation of three-point seatbelts in school buses; additional licensing requirements for school bus drivers; a required notification that a bus driver with a revoked or suspended license is no longer operating a school bus; training requirements for school bus drivers and aides, and the requirement that districts create a mandatory list of students on school buses for school-sponsored activities, among other changes.