Standards Review Committee Releases Recommendations & Grad Requirements Considered At January NJ State Board of Ed Meeting

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The State Board of Education January meeting included a heavy lift of items expected to affect students, schools and profession.  Among the items considered was a proposal to revamp and rename New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards as the New Jersey Student Learning Standards, in light of recommendations made by the group convened by the Governor over the summer and fall to explore New Jersey’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards as part of the Core Curriculum Content Standards.  The Board also approved several organizational changes, approved new cut scores for the Dynamic Learning Map assessment (the antecedent to the APA) and had a chance to review proposed changes to graduation requirements for students, and approved several organizational changes.

Standards Review

Chief Academic Officer Kimberly Harrington presented findings of the Standards Review Commission as a headline item at the January State Board of Education meeting.  Ms. Harrington began the presentation with a review of the composition of the group as well as the process the group took to make the recommendations presented January 11.  Harrington was joined by several members of the commission who had served as part of the ‘steering group’ as well as the sub-committee.


The Board received an overview of the higher level changes, including the rebranding of the so-called ‘Core Curriculum Content Standards’ as ‘New Jersey Student Learning Standards.’    Overall over 230 items were identified for modification, most of which were minor.  A majority of changes focus on coherence, age appropriateness and elimination of narrowing of curriculum.  High Level Changes include:

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Harrington also outlined the regulatory review process the Department hopes to take with the Board to integrate the Commission’s recommendations into current code.  That timeline kicked off with today’s meeting, and will continue with public testimony in February and March, leading to a second discussion in April and anticipated adoption by the Board in May.  This timeline is built to allow district curriculum realignment in Fall 2017, with the Department providing guidance documents, materials, resources, and training.


The commission took testimony at a series of public hearings, via an online survey, and through discussions with stakeholders during the deliberative process.  The group also issued a comprehensive appendix document that seeks to assist the Department in implementing the new standards across New Jersey.

Supporting Documents

Graduation Requirements

The Board also had a first glimpse at proposed changes to graduation requirements for students.  To facilitate the change, current code, N.J.A.C. 6A:8, must be amended.  Changes include: update of the definition of the statewide assessment system to incorporate the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments and the establishment of a three-phase transition for PARCC as a graduation requirement, replacing the comprehensive High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) to end-of-course assessments in English language arts (ELA) 10 and Algebra I as the Statewide assessment graduation requirement as follows:

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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.   Beginning this month, portfolio submissions will occur on rolling basis through May 13, 2016.  This extended timeframe is meant to ease the transition to the new graduation requirements and the anticipated number of appeals.

Among the specific regulatory changes are the following items:

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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).

Organizational Changes

In addition, the Board approved several organizational changes, including the merger of the talent and performance divisions under newly named Deputy Commissioner Peter Shulman, the appointment of Don Mitchell as the new Deputy Performance Officer, and the merger of the Intervention and Innovation Division under the Innovation Division.  Several other appointments were also made, including the elevation of Sue Martz, Kimberly Harrington and Patricia Morgan to the position of Assistant Commissioner and several promotions of internal staff such as James Riddlesperger and Chris Schnieder.

PARCC Update

The Board also received an update on the PARCC fall test administration, including a timeline for the rest of this school year.


Director of the Office of Assessments Jeffrey Hauger additionally announced that, based on feedback from districts, the Department is working with Pearson and PARCC Inc. to provide more in-depth reports that will be available soon:

  • Performance Summary Reports
  • Item analysis report
  • Evidence statement report

Hauger also indicated that this year’s test administration is going smoothly, with over 21,232 Performance-Based Assessment (PBA) tests completed last November/December and the End of Year (EOY) component underway.

In addition, Department reporting continues, with updated data on the rate of “non-tested” available via broadcast memo shortly and Profile Reports to districts/schools due out in mid February.

Dynamic Learning Maps

Further, the Board received an overview on the Dynamic Learning Map (DLM) assessment and established cut scores for the new assessment.

The DLM assessment measures the performance of students with the most significant intellectual disabilities on skills linked to the CCSS in English Language Arts and Mathematics.  These skills are of lower complexity and difficulty levels than the skills assessed in PARCC.  DLM is an online computer-adaptive assessment that assesses what a student knows and can do.  Last year, approximately 9,960 New Jersey students were assessed by the 2014-2015 DLM from grades 3 through 8 and grade 11.  The 2014-2015 administration was the first operational administration of DLM.   In prior years, ELA and math were assessed using the Alternate Proficiency Assessment portfolio system.

The Board approved by Resolution cut scores for the DLM established via a standards setting process conducted earlier this year.

School Boards Recognized

The Board also recognized the crucial work of school board members at the January meeting, presenting the New Jersey School Boards Association with a Resolution in recognition of school board member efforts.

Certification of School Districts

In addition, the Board reviewed NJQSAC information for 8 districts, as indicated in Appendix A, all of which did not meet the 80 percent requirement and will implement QSAC improvement plans to address deficient indicators.  Following plan implementation, the executive county superintendent will conduct another interim progress review; you will be kept informed of the district’s progress on a regular basis.

Public Testimony

Finally, the Board announced that it will take public testimony on the changes to New Jersey’s Regulations on Standards and Assessment at the February Board Meeting.