The Assembly Education Committee approved several pieces of legislation that had made its way to the Governor’s desk and were pocket vetoed at the end of the last legislative session in a legislative ‘do-over. ‘
A-1016 (Jasey / DeCroce, B. / Caputo) – Establishes task force to study issues related to the establishment of full-day kindergarten.
The legislation establishes a 22-member task force, of which NJPSA is part, to study and evaluate issues associated with the establishment and implementation of full-day kindergarten. The task force will study and consider issues including:
- A review of existing research, studies, and data concerning full-day kindergarten, including studies that examine the long-term academic impact and the social and emotional impact of full-day kindergarten;
- Implementation issues associated with full-day kindergarten, including but not limited to, staffing needs, facility space, and class size;
- Funding needed for full-day kindergarten, including sources of funding;
- Curriculum comparisons between full-day kindergarten and half-day kindergarten;
- Opinions and recommendations of parents and elementary school teachers regarding full-day kindergarten; and
- The feasibility of offering full-day kindergarten in school districts Statewide.
This particular legislation made it to the Governor’s desk during the last two legislative sessions but was vetoed by the Governor twice. The Governor argued in his veto in the prior legislative session that nearly three-quarters of school districts already provided full-day kindergarten, and that the purpose of the task force would be redundant with some of the work currently carried out by the division of early childhood education within the state Department of Education. NJPSA supports this legislation.
A-1256 (Caride / Singleton / Jasey) – Requires State Board of Education regulations regarding school nurse certification to include certain minimum eligibility requirements.
State Board of Education regulations at N.J.A.C.6A:9B-14.3 and 14.4 govern school nurse certification. In July of 2013, the State board adopted amendments to the certification requirements, which reduced credit requirements for a school nurse endorsement from 30 to 21 semester hour credits, and reduced credit requirements for a non-instructional school nurse endorsement from 21 to 15 semester hour credits. The amendment also eliminated the requirement that a candidate for a school nurse endorsement complete a minimum of 6 credits in a college-supervised school nurse practicum, half of which is completed in a school nurse office and the balance of which is completed in a classroom.
NJPSA supports the measure as it focuses on ensuring staff are prepared upon entry into the profession. It is our understanding that the colleges/universities have not modified their curriculum to address these changes to date. Moreover, the Association argued that aspiring nurses, like aspiring teachers, should have access, and complete all developmental, clinical and educational requirements prior to entering the profession.
A-2566 (Diegnan) – Establishes Response to Intervention initiative in DOE to support and encourage school districts in implementation of Response to Intervention framework.
The bill directs the Commissioner of Education to develop and establish an initiative to support and encourage the use of a Response to Intervention (RTI) framework by school districts. The Department initiative must include the dissemination of information and guidance to school districts regarding the development and effective implementation of an RTI framework as a methodology to identify struggling learners, maximize student achievement, and reduce behavioral problems. The initiative also must include the dissemination of information and guidance to school districts regarding the effective use of an RTI framework as a methodology to identify students with specific learning disabilities in accordance with the federal “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. s.1400 et seq.
In addition, the bill requires the commissioner to ensure that an RTI framework developed and implemented by a school district includes, at a minimum, certain elements that are commonly recognized as core components of any RTI model. These elements include:
- High quality research-based instruction in the general education setting;
- Universal screening procedures to identify students at risk for poor learning outcomes or behavioral challenges;
- Multiple levels of evidence-based interventions that are progressively more intense, based on the student’s responsiveness; and
- Continuous monitoring of student progress.
Finally, the bill requires the commissioner to make technical assistance and training available to assist school districts in implementing an RTI framework.
NJPSA supports the legislation, as do the other major education stakeholders. It is our understanding that much of the Department work has already been accomplished.
A-2567 (Diegnan) – Requires school districts and DOE to post on their websites information regarding student participation in certain assessments. (pending intro & referral)
In addition, the Committee approved legislation which requires school districts and DOE to post on their websites information regarding student participation in the PARCC assessment. Under the bill, a school district would be required to make publicly available on its website and upon request, information regarding the number of students in each grade level who participated in the administration of a PARCC assessment and the number of students who did not participate in the assessment. The information would need to include the subject area of the PARCC assessment, the grade levels covered by the assessment, and the dates on which the assessment was administered. The information would need to be posted on the school website and released to the Department of Education within ten days after the district completes its administration of any PARCC assessment to any grade level.
The bill requires the Department of Education to post on its website data regarding the total number of students in each grade level Statewide who participated in the administration of a PARCC assessment and the total number of students in each grade level Statewide who did not participate in the administration of a PARCC assessment.
NJPSA expressed deep concern with the legislation, indicating that data accuracy and consistency across districts could be a serious concern under the bill. In addition, the Association argued that the State’s data collection system, NJSMART already collects this information and, as such, should remain the data collector. Similar concerns were expressed by the NJ School Board Association.
A-2353 (Vainieri Huttle) – Establishes measures to deter steroid use among students; appropriates $45,000 to DOE for New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association testing of student-athletes for steroids and other performance enhancing substances.
The bill implements the recommendations of the December 2005 report of the Governor’s Task Force on Steroid Use and Prevention. Specifically, the bill requires the Department of Education and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) to work jointly to develop and implement, by the 2014-2015 school year, a program of random steroid testing of student-athletes who qualify to compete in championship tournaments sanctioned by the association.
Currently, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association randomly tests students who make it to state championships for the use of steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. The bill would expand the program to test other athletes and set aside an additional $45,000 in the state budget for that purpose. Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the measure last session because he said he was opposed supplemental appropriations to the budget.
In addition, the bill requires coaches to incorporate into the team’s training activities a gender-specific program designed to reduce the use of steroids and performance enhancing supplements, alcohol, and drugs, and to promote healthy nutrition and exercise. NJPSA supports this legislation.
A-2502 (Lampitt) – Prohibits State Board of Education from limiting number of certain two-year college credits that may be applied towards meeting teacher certification requirements.
This bill prohibited the State Board of Education from limiting the number of professional education credits earned at a regionally accredited two-year college that may be applied towards meeting the requirements for teacher certification, provided that the credits are accepted by a State-approved college professional education preparation program. Current State board regulations provide that, for most candidates for teacher certification, no more than six credits earned in the field of professional education at a regionally accredited two-year college can be applied towards meeting the requirements for teacher certification. As a result, a student who has completed more than six credits in the field of professional education at a regionally accredited two-year college prior to his enrollment in a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year institution of higher education will have to repeat some of his coursework, resulting in increased education costs and a delay in program completion. NJPSA is monitoring this legislation.