At its September monthly meeting, the State Board of Education heard updates and took action on the following items:
Special Education: The State Board rescinded its April 2020 emergency pandemic action permitting boards of education to provide instruction to special education students virtually during the pandemic. The rescission took effect Sept. 8, 2021.
Districts may continue to provide virtual related services to special education students up to Jan. 11, 2022.
Although the declared public health emergency has expired, P.L. 2021, c. 103 provides that rule waivers/suspensions/modifications adopted under the authority of Executive Order 103 will expire in January 2022. P.L. 2021, c. 103 also allows agency heads to terminate rule waivers/suspensions/modifications prior to the expiration date. Since all schools will be returning to full-time, in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year, the State Board approved the termination of the special pandemic rule. If certain conditions require a school to be closed for in-school instruction for more than three school days, P.L. 2020, c. 27 will allow special education and related services to be provided through electronic communications, virtual, or other online platforms during the closure.
Homeless Children and Students in State Facilities: The regulations concerning homeless students were formally proposed for readoption. These regulations ensure that 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. These regulations also establish uniform statewide policies to ensure school enrollment of homeless children and youth. These regulations also establish policies to ensure the educational stability of children in resource family homes. Proposed amendments ensure that the regulations will be aligned with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
Dynamic Learning Maps Cut Scores for English Language Arts/Mathematics and Science: The State Board adopted a resolution on cut scores for the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM). The DLM is used as the state’s alternate assessment aligned with alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS) for students with the most significant intellectual disabilities, as required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and N.J.A.C. 6A:8-4. The DLM suite of assessments took the place of the Alternate Proficiency Assessment (APA) in New Jersey. The DLM English Language Arts (ELA) and math assessments were implemented in the 2014-2015 school year and cut scores for those assessments were adopted by the State Board in January 2016. The DLM science assessment was implemented in the 2017-2018 school year, but cut scores were not adopted by the board at that time.
ACCESS for ELLs: The State Board also adopted cut off scores for the ACCESS assessments test of English language proficiency in four domains: speaking, listening, writing and reading. Students enrolled in the bilingual, English as a Second Language (ESL), or English language services program are assessed annually using an NJDOE-approved English language proficiency test to determine their progress in achieving English language proficiency goals and readiness for exiting the program
Standards and Assessment: The board adopted updated regulations on standards and assessment. The most significant change to this proposal concerns the portfolio appeals process. Current seniors and juniors have three avenues to meet the graduation exam requirement. For these classes, there is no requirement that a student take a particular assessment prior to participating through the portfolio appeals process. However, the classes of 2023, 2024, and 2025 will have a new graduation exam that will be a comprehensive assessment – rather than an end-of-course test – and will include geometry standards, making it more rigorous than the current graduation assessment standard of Algebra I. Under this revised rulemaking, the classes of 2023, 2024, and 2025 will also be able to use a non-standardized, portfolio appeals option or a menu of substitute competency tests. However, students will be required to take the state graduation proficiency test before accessing the substitute competency tests or portfolio appeals process.
Praxis Mathematics, Middle School Mathematics, Middle School Science, and New Qualifying Scores for edTPA: The State Board adopted a resolution concerning new qualifying scores for the Praxis and the edTPA. Regardless of pathway to obtain certification, teacher candidates are required to demonstrate content knowledge, basic skills and pedagogical skills through various assessments: The Praxis measures knowledge while the edTPA measures pedagogical skills.