The New Jersey State Board of Education acted on numerous items at its March 2 meeting, which was held virtually amid ongoing health concerns. Below are some highlights.
- Resolution in Recognition of Gifted and Talented Students Month in New Jersey — The State Board passed a resolution recognizing gifted and talented month in New Jersey. It noted that longitudinal research has shown that gifted and talented programs have a positive effect on students’ post-secondary plans, including a higher rate of advanced college degrees and involvement in creative productive work following college and graduate school. The State Board also recognized local educational agencies’ efforts to meet the needs of gifted and talented and twice-exceptional students and to ensure they are appropriately identified and provided the opportunity to fulfill their potential.
- Resolution in Recognition of Social and Emotional Learning Day in New Jersey – March 11 — The State Board passed a resolution recognizing the importance of SEL to student development. Social and emotional learning is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions. SEL advances educational equity and excellence through authentic school-family-community partnerships to establish learning environments and experiences that feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction and ongoing evaluation.
- Education for Homeless Children and Students in State Facilities — The State Board adopted regulations concerning how homeless children, students placed in state facilities, and children in resource family care (formerly known as foster care) are provided a thorough and efficient education. Additionally, the new rules establish uniform statewide policies to ensure school enrollment of homeless children and youth. The rules also establish policies to ensure the educational stability of children in resource family care.
- Religious Holidays — The State Board updated the list of religious holidays for the 2021-2022 school year for which students could have an excused absence. The State Board also released its proposed list of religious holidays for the 2022-2023 school year.
- Bridge Year Program — The State Board continued its discussions on the regulations for the Bridge Year Pilot Program. L. 2020, c. 41 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.
- School Ethics Commission—The State Board began discussions on updates to the regulations governing school ethics. The proposed readoption with amendments and new rules seeks to ensure and preserve confidence in the integrity of elected and appointed members of a district board of education, members of a board of trustees of a charter school or renaissance school project and school administrators. The proposed amendments and new rules will align this chapter with current practices. The New Jersey Department of Education also proposes to specify that the provisions of this chapter apply to renaissance school projects and renaissance school project boards of trustees. The proposed amendments and new rules also are a result of grievances that individuals have brought forth and inquiries that district board of education members, members of a board of trustees of a charter school or renaissance school project, or school administrators have presented to the commission for advisement regarding matters related to board governance. The New Jersey School Boards Association will be reviewing this regulatory proposal to determine its potential impact on board members.