At its November meeting, the State Board of Education heard updates and took action on the following items:

  • Assessment The State Board said that the NJDOE was making available at no cost to districts the “Start Strong” assessment. This assessment is based on the most critical content standards from the student’s previous year of learning, allowing educators to quickly identify the areas where more support is needed in the context of the grade-level standards. This voluntary assessment is open to districts from September through December.
  • Resolution in Recognition of Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Membership Month The State Board passed a resolution recognizing November as Parent Teacher Association membership month. For more than 120 years, the New Jersey PTA has served the needs of children, teachers, parents, and schools through active volunteerism. The New Jersey PTA has more than 110,000 members in 600 local PTAs.
  • Personnel The State Board appointed the following individuals to the following positions in the NJDOE:
    • Lisa Gleason, assistant commissioner, Division of Academics and Performance
    • Rebecca Lubot, chief education policy advisor
  • State Special Education Advisory Council  The State Board made the following appointments to the State Special Education Advisory Council:
    • Lonjeté Nias, supervisor of special services for the Neptune City Board of Education;
    • Patricia White, physician and co-founder of the National Down Syndrome Cognitive Research Foundation;
    • Vikas Jain, a volunteer with organizations that develop and provide programming for students with developmental disabilities, advocating for inclusion in educational and workplace settings.
    • Mark Brugger, an individual with specific learning disabilities who has more than 30 years of experience advocating for students with disabilities. Brugger founded a day camp for children with disabilities, and currently serves as the associate director of marketing and development for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Mercer County.

All of these appointees are also are parents of students with disabilities. Required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the State Special Education Advisory Council provides policy guidance to the NJDOE on special education and related services for children with disabilities in the state.

  • Regulatory Changes The State Board discussed proposed changes to the regulations concerning the programs to support student development, N.J.A.C. 6A:16. The chapter provides and specifies minimum standards for district boards of education to establish policies and procedures and to operate programs to support the social, emotional, and physical development of students, including school health services; physical examinations; intervention and referral services; programs of substance use prevention, intervention, and treatment referral; school safety and security; student discipline; reporting of potentially missing, abused, or neglected child situations; and home instruction and approved alternative education programs. The NJDOE proposes to readopt the chapter with minimal amendments to ensure the existing rules do not expire and to avoid additional stress on schools and school districts during the 2020-2021 school year. Proposed amendments to the programs to support student development will align the chapter to N.J.S.A. 18A:37-2a, which was enacted in 2016 to prohibit the suspension of students in kindergarten to second grade, unless required by the “Zero Tolerance for Guns Act,” or for conduct of a violent or sexual nature that endangers other students or adults. The proposed amendments will also clarify reporting requirements for the Student Safety Data System (formerly called the Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System) to align the rules with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA).