The State Board of Education voted to return the Newark School District to local control, and took action on items ranging from school bus sensors to personnel appointments, at its Sept. 13 meeting.

Return to Local Control The State Board of Education returned the state-operated district of Newark back to local control. With the passage of these resolutions, Newark begins the transition to full local control. (See related story, “NJSBA Applauds Return of Newark Schools to Local Control.”)

Assessment The State Board received an update on student assessment in New Jersey, including a review of some of the results of the spring of 2017 administration of the PARCC assessment. Over the past 3 years, New Jersey students have made significant gains in ELA and Math.

  • English Language Arts Grades 3-10: Students performing at or above grade level expectations (PARCC levels 4 & 5) grew by 7.3 percentage points (representing over 88,000 more students.) Students not yet or only partially meeting grade level expectations (PARCC levels 1 & 2) decreased by 4.4 percentage points (with 20,000 more students approaching grade level expectations.)
  • Math Grades 3-8 and Algebra I: Students performing at or above grade level expectations grew by 4.9 percentage points (representing over 53,000 more students.) Students not yet or only partially meeting grade level expectations decreased by 2.8 percentage points (with over 2,100 more students approaching grade level expectations.)
  • A total of 250,000 elementary students who took the PARCC assessment in each of the three years it was administered (2015, 2016 and 2017) achieved some of the greatest gains.
  • Student participation continues to increase in 2017. Nearly 75,000 more tests were completed in ELA and nearly 87,000 more tests were completed in math since the first year administrating the assessment (2015.)

In addition to this general presentation, Rich Wolbert, president of the Beverly City Board of Education, Beverly City Superintendent Elizabeth Giacobbe, and members of her administrative team presented on the growth in academic achievement that Beverly has experienced since the PARCC test was instituted.

NJDOE will release all 2016-2017 district-level results in late September.

Updated Organizational Structure The State Board also adopted an updated organizational structure and appointed personnel in accordance with the organizational chart.

State Board of Examiners The State Board also reappointed members to the State Board of Examiners. The State Board of Examiners is responsible for issuing, revoking and suspending educational certificates under rules prescribed by the State Board of Education.

School Bus Sensors The State Board also adopted regulations implementing Abigail’s Law which requires school buses manufactured on or after July 17, 2016, to be equipped with a sensor “to determine the presence of objects in the front or back of the bus.”

Biliteracy Seal The State Board of Education also approved the publication of a proposal concerning the State Seal of Biliteracy. The State Seal of Biliteracy is intended to do the following: encourage students to study languages; certify attainment of biliteracy; provide employers with a method of identifying people with language and biliteracy skills; provide universities with a method to recognize and award academic credit to applicants seeking admission; prepare students with 21st century skills; recognize and promote foreign language instruction in public schools; and strengthen intergroup relationships, affirm the value of diversity, and honor the multiple cultures and languages of a community. The Seal of Biliteracy also has been approved in 25 other states and in Washington, D.C.