At its Oct. 3 meeting, the State Board of Education received updates and took action on the following items:

PARCC Tests — The State Board amended the New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJDOE) proposal concerning standardized assessment for the upcoming assessment cycle.  The original proposal would have reduced the amount of tests in high school from six to two.  The State Board amended the proposal to reduce testing in high school from six tests to four tests.

This means that students in grades nine and ten will be tested in English/Language Arts and Math (Algebra I and Geometry or Geometry and Algebra II). The requirement to take and pass English/ Language Arts 10 and Algebra I remains.

During the campaign, Gov. Murphy had pledged to abolish the tests prepared by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet this spring proposed scaling back the required high school tests to just Algebra 1 and 10th grade language arts.

Pushback from legislative leaders and State Board members led to the current compromise.

Additionally, the proposal maintains the menu of graduation assessment options (currently afforded to the Class of 2020) that includes alternative assessments such as ACT, SAT, ASFAB, and ACCUPLACER.  The proposal also maintains the portfolio appeals process. Thus, the menu of substitute competency assessments options currently open to the class of 2019 and 2020 remains open to students in the classes of 2020 through 2025. The State Board approved the publication of the amended proposal for comment by the public.

National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Membership Month — The State Board recognized the contributions of 105,000 parents involved in PTAs throughout the state’s public schools and honored their role as advocates for children.

Presentation of the 2018-2019 New Jersey Teacher of the Year — The State Board honored Jennifer Skomial as this year’s Teacher of the Year. Ms. Skomial has been a teacher at Morris County School of Technology in Denville for the past ten years.  For the last five years, she has taught the Academy for Education and Learning, a four-year program for students interested in future careers in education.

Teacher-Leader Endorsement—The State Board began discussion on a proposal to create a teacher-leader endorsement on the instructional certificate. The teacher-leader endorsement will recognize that a teacher has formally gained knowledge, skills, and competencies to lead his or her colleagues.

The teacher-leader endorsement will further professionalize education and give teachers the opportunity to advance their status and influence, all while remaining in the classroom with students, where research shows they have the greatest impact on student outcomes.

The proposal being considered by the State Board would require candidates for the teacher-leader endorsement to possess a New Jersey standard instructional certificate; demonstrate a minimum of three years of teaching experience with a valid New Jersey or out-of-state certificate; demonstrate a minimum of two effective or highly effective annual summative ratings in the three most recent years;  complete a program of study with a commissioner-approved, teacher-leader program provider; and pass a commissioner-approved performance assessment. The proposed requirements would ensure that teachers have demonstrated effective classroom practices before developing and honing skill sets intended to influence their colleagues’ classroom practices.

Earned sick leave for employees of APSSDs  The State Board began discussion on a proposal concerning earned sick leave for employees at Approved Private Schools for Students with Disabilities (APSSD). The proposal, pursuant to P.L. 2018, c. 10, would require private employers to provide sick time to certain employees and also would permit employers to pay employees for earned unused sick leave.

Amendments to NJQSAC—The State Board also discussed proposed amendments to the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC).  The NJDOE proposes to include the Amistad Commission mandates that curricula in kindergarten through grade 12 include the teaching of the African slave trade, slavery in America, the vestiges of slavery in this country, and the contributions of African Americans. The NJDOE also proposes to include Holocaust Commission mandates as part of NJQSAC. The curricula for kindergarten through grade 12 addresses issues of bias, prejudice, and bigotry, including bullying, through the teaching of the Holocaust and genocide.