State Board Approves Changes To HIB Investigatory Requirements & NJQSAC Monitoring, Also Honors Lighthouse Districts
The New Jersey State Board of Education approved final changes to the current code related to the investigation of harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) issues in schools, adopted changes to the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC) monitoring process and honored several districts as high growth or ‘Lighthouse’ districts at their November board meeting.
HIB Changes – Programs to Support Student Development (final adoption)
In some of the longest awaited changes of the day, the State Board approved changes to the current Programs to Support Student Development code, N.J.A.C. 6A:16, related to implementing the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act in response to recommendations proposed by the Anti-Bullying Task Force.
NJPSA/FEA’s Director of Legal Education Dave Nash has compiled a handy chart that encapsulates the changes:
Among the changes adopted are the following:
- Requires school district official take into account the circumstances of the incident when providing notification to parents and guardians of all students involved in the reported HIB incidents and when conveying the nature of the incident, including the actual or perceived protected category motivating the alleged offense. N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.7(a)2viii(2) and N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.8(a)3viii(2). This provision was adopted in response to concerns related to revealing student sexual orientation or gender identity/expression;
- Protects the victim by taking into account the circumstances of the incident when communicating with parents (and for public school districts, when following the provisions of N.J.S.A. 18A:37-15), N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.7(a)2ix(3) and N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.8(a)3ix(6);
- Allows districts to modify the HIB Investigation process slightly. Specifically, the new regulation permits a district board of education to adopt a policy to include, as part of the investigation, a process prior to initiating an investigation by which the principal, or his or her designee, in consultation with the anti-bullying specialist, makes a preliminary determination as to whether a reported incident or complaint, assuming all facts presented are true, is a report. If a preliminary determination finds the incident or complaint is a report outside the scope of N.J.S.A. 18A:37-14, the determination may be appealed to the district board of education, pursuant to district board of education policies and procedures governing pupil grievances, and thereafter to the Commissioner in accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A:3;
- Requires board policy to include a statement that bullying is unwanted aggressive behavior that may involve a real or perceived power imbalance. This change is meant to clarify what may constitute HIB;
- Prohibits a member of the same bargaining unit from investigating claim against fellow member; and
- Revises the name of the School Safety Team to School Safety/Climate Team to better reflect the work of this group.
In addition, the changes extend the timeline from 45 to 60 days for parents or guardians to request a hearing before the district board of education concerning the written information they receive about a HIB investigation.
Finally, the proposal makes some dramatic changes to the process a Private School for Students With Disabilities (PSSD) and a sending district board(s) of education must use when a student attending a PSSD is involved in an HIB incident occurring on a sending district board of education school bus, or at a sending district board of education school-sponsored functions and off school grounds. Specifically, requires a sending district of the alleged victim to take the lead in investigating incidents and requires PSSD staff to cooperate with sending district in the investigation.
Evaluation of the Performance of School Districts – NJQSAC (final adoption)
The Board also approved changes to N.J.A.C. 6A:30, Evaluation of the Performance of School Districts – the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC). QSAC regulations, first adopted in 2007 and renewed in 2012, are up for re-adoption this year.
Proposed changes are part of a broader effort to clarify, align and simplify New Jersey’s accountability systems, as well as accurately reflect key state initiatives such as the adoption of New Jersey Student Learning Standards, PARCC assessments, ESSA school accountability and AchieveNJ educator evaluation system.
The adopted changes include amendments to the Instruction and Programming, Governance, Fiscal Management, Operations and Personnel DPRs as follows:
The majority of the amendments to the DPRs between proposal level and adoption were made for clarity and alignment with underlying statute and code. Examples by area include:
Instruction and Program:
- Clarified the indicators to better align with the requirements of the underlying code for curriculum.
- Changed the structure of Indicator 16 for clarity.
- Added a requirement that each new board member has received training on CSA evaluation.
- Removed language from Indicator 12 which created duplicate monitoring for the Open Public Meetings Act.
- Removed unnecessary language in Governance Indicator 2b related to superintendent evaluations.
- Changed the term ‘correct’ to ‘complete’ in Personnel Indicators 1a and 1b to clarify that QSAC will monitor that the district has completed the required evaluation procedures.
- Changed the term ‘school activities’ to ‘administrator practices’ in Personnel Indicator 6 for clarification.
NJPSA had an opportunity to weigh in on the proposal earlier this year and was able to effectuate changes (NJPSA Testimony). The amendments take effect in the 2018-19 school year, giving districts next year to adapt to the changes.
- NJDOE QSAC Adoption Presentation NJAC 6A30
- Appendix A
- Appendix B
- Current: Chapter 30 Appendix B
- Proposed: Adoption Level proposed Appendix B effective July 1 2018
- Appendix C
Lighthouse District Initiative
In addition to pretty significant code approvals, the Board and Department of Education also honored seven districts as ‘Lighthouse Districts’ as part of a new initiative that seeks to recognize districts that have instituted unique and effective instructional, developmental and operational practices that benefit students and promote student achievement. According to the Department press release announcing the districts’ recognition, the districts ‘have demonstrated student academic progress as a result of setting high academic standards, using assessment data to identify each and every student’s needs, and working tirelessly to provide the necessary educational supports.’
The districts honored include:
Mainland Regional was on hand yesterday to share some of the innovative things they have done to not only spur student achievement but positively address the culture and climate of their school. Â
Standards and Assessment (first discussion)
In forward looking news, the Board had a first discussion on changes related to how and when students will take the federally required science assessments that currently occur in grade 4 and in high school. Testing changes are being proposed in light of science standards changes that were adopted in 2014.
Specifically, in 2014, New Jersey adopted new standards, which we now call the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Science (NJSLS-S).Â These standards were based upon the Next Generation Science Standards and were developed collaboratively with stake-holders in science, science education, higher education, and industry. The timeline for district implementation of these new standards by grade was as follows:
- Grades 6-12 by 2016-17;
- Grades K-5 by 2017-18
In concert with this standards change, the Department also did an assessment audit which found that the new changes required a corresponding change in assessment. The new science standards have different standards progressions include a natural opportunity to assess students comprehensively at the end of grade 5, rather than in 4th grade, because the elementary science standards (K-5) are specific to each grade level.
Science educators support shifting the assessment to grade 5, as it aligns to the progression of the elementary science standards. In addition, other states, including Maryland, Illinois, Delaware and California, have adopted the same science standards New Jersey has and assess in grade 5.
In light of this the Department introduced a code proposal that would modify New Jersey Administrative Code from a science assessment in grade 4 to grade 5. Testing in grade 5 would also ensure students have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of the entire elementary science standards.
In spring of 2018 New Jersey will be administering a field test of the new assessments, named the New Jersey Student Learning Assessment-Science. The spring 2019 administration is expected to be a baseline year of the new assessments, and it will reflect feedback gathered in the spring 2018 field test.
The NJDOE will be supporting districts by providing:
- 2018 field test administration guidance for grade 8, high school (typically in grade 11), and grade 5 (pending adoption by the State Board of Education);
- Information on testing window and testing unit times, and technical and infrastructure guidance;
- Resources (e.g. sample test questions);
- Opportunities to participate in test development; and
- Trainings in the winter and spring for test administrators, and with information for English Language Learners (ELLs) and special education students.
Following the field test in spring 2018, the NJDOE will be seeking feedback from districts and science educators to inform future administrations of the assessments.
Career and Technical Education (final adoption)
The Board also adopted changes to N.J.A.C. 6A:19-7 which regulate the private career schools. What is interesting about this code provision is that the New Jersey Department of Education’s regulations must be adopted in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s (NJDLWD) rules regarding private career schools at N.J.A.C. 12:41. NJDLWD adopted amendments on December 19. As such, amendments are being recommended to N.J.A.C. 6A:19-7 to align the two provisions.
Specifically the code proposal:
- Reinforces connections between Labor Workforce Development’s code and the Department of Education’s code by inserting references to Labor Workforce Development’s code throughout the subchapter;
- Removes repealed and/or amended statutory references; and
- Aligns definitions and school requirements to Labor Workforce Development’s code, including switching from an annual application for renewal to a biennial application
Katzenbach School for the Deaf (final adoption)
Further, the Board approved the re-adoption of N.J.A.C. 6A:21, which relates to the Marie H. Katzenbach School for the Deaf. The Board received an overview of the school’s program from the school’s acting superintendent as well as a review of technical changes to the code provision back in May.
Additional Discussions In Light of New Board
Finally, State Board President Arcelio Aponte requested that the Board begin meeting a week prior to the actual Board meeting, akin to an agenda setting meeting, to work through the agenda and address any questions that Board members may have. As you may recall, the Board had a substantial membership change over the summer, with this change comes additional the need to provide additional background info to board members – hence the call for an ‘agenda’ meeting. At this point meetings will be held telephonically.