The New Jersey State Board of Education adopted changes to current Standards & Assessment regulation related to current graduation requirements at the August Board meeting. The Board also approved a resolution setting a new ‘ramp up’ schedule for EdTPA, the aspiring teacher performance assessment. In addition, the Board continued its process of conferring additional local control to the Newark school district, returning control over personnel changes to the district. Changes to the religious holiday calendar were also approved. Finally, long time State Board Member Dorothy Strickland announced her retirement and was honored by the Board.
Graduation Requirements Adopted
The Board gave final approval to changes in current graduation requirements housed in Standards & Assessment regulation, N.J.A.C. 6A:8. Changes include:
- Update of the definition of the statewide assessment system to incorporate the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment; and
- The establishment of a three-phase transition for PARCC as a graduation requirement, replacing the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) with end-of-course assessments in English language arts (ELA) 10 and Algebra I as the Statewide assessment graduation requirement.
The phase in does NOT eliminate the portfolio appeal process for students for the foreseeable future. The Department has used the process as an alternative means to demonstrate graduation proficiency since 2010. However, the window for appeal has been extended to ease the transition to the new graduation requirements and the anticipated number of appeals.
Among the specific regulatory changes are the following items:
The recommendations were proposed by the Study Commission on the Use of Assessments, who issued their report January 11 as well (Study Commission on Use of Assessments Releases Final Report, January 11, 2016).
The Board also adopted a new timeline for roll out of a new performance assessment for aspiring teachers. The State Board’s adoption of new certification regulations back in 2015 included a provision requiring traditional and alternate route teachers to pass a Commissioner approved performance based assessment. Under the code change, traditional route candidates would be required to pass the assessment during the student teaching year; alternate route candidates would have 2 years to complete the requirement while on the job in school.
The Department selected an assessment to satisfy the new requirement. That provider is Stanford University Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity(SCALE)/American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE)/ Pearson. SCALE/AACTE. The assessment requirement, edTPA, was originally slated to go live in the 2017-2018 academic year, with a preliminary cut score one standard deviation below the norm. This timeline was modified to allow additional time for students, schools and higher education to comply with the new requirement. The new roll-out requires aspiring educators to TAKE the assessment beginning in 2017-18. In 2018-19, aspiring educators would be required to get within one standard deviation of the recommended cut score and in 2019-20, a New Jersey specific cut score would be established.
NJPSA had voiced concern with the original timeline outlined by the Department back in April. The new timeline will allow schools and aspiring educators to acclimate to the new requirement.
In addition, Board Member Dorothy Strickland announced her retirement with the State Board effective after the August 3 meeting. Dr. Strickland has served on the Board since 2008.
In a letter to the State Board President Marc Biedron, Dr. Strickland described her tenure as “enlightening” and “educational.”
The former classroom teacher and reading specialist received a proclamation from the board and a standing ovation during Wednesday’s meeting.
Further, the Board approved two additions to the current Religious Holidays calendar as based upon petition by citizens:
- The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Catholic Christian)” celebrated on August 15, 2016; and\
- “Mary, Mother of God (Catholic Christian)” celebrated on January 1, 2017.
The calendar for the 2016-17 school year was approved back in April. This resolution expands the calendar to include these days as days a student must be conferred an excused absence.
In addition, the Board moved the Newark School District one step closer to return of local control, re-conferring decision making authority as it relates to personnel. The local school board now oversees three of the five areas of board function – it also has control of operations and fiscal management. That said, until full control is restored, the NJSBOE can still veto any decisions the board makes (State letter to district)
Further, the Board also had a second discussion on changes to regulation as it relates to student transportation, N.J.A.C 6A:27, in light of the enactment of Abigail’s Law. That law required school buses manufactured on or after July 17, 2016, to be equipped with a sensor system to detect the presence of a person(s) or object(s) in the front and rear of the bus. The sensor system is to include an audible and visual alert signal placed in the driver’s compartment to alert the driver when a person(s) or object(s) is detected within the sensor’s designated range.
Additionally, the Monmouth-Ocean Educational Services Commission (MOESC) ‘Enlargement of Purpose Request’ was approved by the Board.
The Board also approved nineteen New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC) reviews (3 full and 16 interim reviews) as outlined in Appendix A. One district scored 80 percent or above in all five QSAC areas and was certified for a three year period. Eighteen districts scored below 80% in one or more QSAC areas and is required to implement a QSAC improvement plans to address deficient indicators.
Finally, the Board announced that it would take public testimony in September on any subject, known as ‘Open Topic.’ Registration opens later this week. Public testimony is scheduled for September 7.