State Board Gets Update On NJ Student SAT/ACT Success, Timeline Refresh on Standards Review Process
By Jennifer Keyes-Maloney
The New Jersey State Board of Education at their September meeting, received an impromptu presentation by the Department of Education on soon to be released SAT / ACT data. The Board also had an opportunity to get an update from Assistant Commissioner Kimberley Harrington on the ongoing work of the Standards Review Committee, heard about the work Junior Achievement is doing with our students, approved several code provisions for publication in the New Jersey register and appointed several individuals to the State Board of Examiners. In addition, the Board honored former Board Member Claire Chamberlain who resigned effective August 6. Ms. Chamberlain had served on the Board since 2011.
Standards Review Update
Assistant Commissioner Kimberley Harrington provided the Board with an update on the status of the Standards Review Committee. The group met for the first time earlier this week. The work day began with a general session for all committee members to discuss the standards revision process, the timeline, and the commitments. Committees then moved into breakout sessions for the remainder of the day with the NJDOE leaders and content specialist facilitators. According to Harrington, over 95 percent of those who had been appointed have responded affirmatively to their willingness to participate.
The group has already scheduled three regional (north / central / south) Listening Tours, as part of the current ongoing standards review process. The tours will allow for an open forum with educators, parents, and community member. The dates and locations are as follows:
- September 17 from 6-9pm at the Public Safety Training Academy in Parsippany (Registration (registration will close at 5pm on September 16);
- September 27 from 6-9pm at Stockton College in Galloway (Registration (registration will close at 5pm on September 27)); and
- September 29 from 6-9pm at the Mercer County Special Services School District in Hamilton (Registration(registration will close at 5pm on September 28).
Speakers participating must pre-register and will be called to speak in the order of arrival at the event. All speakers will have three minutes to provide comments that are pertinent to the standards review and must provide a written copy of comments to a Department representative.
In addition, Harrington announced the issuance of a survey to allow the public to provide feedback on the Common Core State Standards. The survey will be open now through October 9. The survey may be used to provide specific feedback on each Standard from Kindergarten through Grade 12. Responses from the surveywill be compiled and used to inform the New Jersey Standards Review process. Data will be compiled by a third party reviewer.
Assistant Commissioner Bari Erlichson also provided the Board with an overview of SAT/ACT and AP performance by New Jersey students. According to Erlichson, student participation in College Readiness assessments is up significantly. Some takeaways:
- SAT participation increased by 2.7% with Hispanic students up 9% and African American student participation up 4.9%.
- Approximately 80% of 2015 graduating seniors took the SAT; about 26% took the ACT.
- Performance on the SAT is steady – the 2015 mean scores in Reading and Math were down a point or so, not unexpected given the rising participation rate. Unfortunately achievement gaps are not narrowing on the SAT.
- As measured by students achieving a composite score >= 1550 on the SAT, approximately 44% of the students who took the SAT met the College Board determination for College and Career Readiness.
- As measured by the ACT’s definition of students meeting the benchmarks in all four areas of the ACT, approximately 43% of the students who took the ACT met the determination for College and Career Readiness.
- NAEP’s 2013 assessment for 12th grade students demonstrated that 41% of New Jersey’s students met their determination for College and Career Readiness in Language Arts. (2015 NAEP data is due to be released in October.)
- Participation in Advanced Placement assessments showed a remarkable 7.5% increase in the count of unique test takers; a 10% increase in the number of tests taken. There was also 5.4% growth in the number of students who scored three or higher
Further, the Board received a presentation from Junior Achievement (JA) on their work with New Jersey students, in coordination with NJ Business & Industry Association (NJBIA). JA is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students in grades K-12 about entrepreneurship, work readiness, and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. The organization creates innovative business-education partnerships that engage corporate and community volunteers to serve as role models, allowing students to see how what is learned in the classroom can apply in the real world. In the 2014-15 school year, 57,502 students from 254 schools and organizations in New Jersey worked with nearly 4,000 volunteer role models and over 3,000 educators.
JA’s program correlate to New Jersey Standard 9 for 21st Century Life and Careers and the Career Ready Practices, fostering students’ development of critical thinking skills and ability to solve real-world problems through experiential learning. Their programs are provided to schools and school districts at no cost.
State Board of Examiners
Additionally, the Board made appointments to the State Board of Examiners (SBOE). The SBOE is responsible for issuing, revoking and suspending educational certificates under rules prescribed by the State Board of Education. Members of the SBOR are appointed by the Commissioner of Education with the approval of the State Board of Education. The Board reappointed four members:
- Dr. Laura Morana, Interim Executive County Superintendent, Mercer and Middlesex Counties
- Derek Jess, School Business Administrator, Perth Amboy School District
- Dr. Patricia McGeehan, Superintendent, Bayonne School District
- Dr. Mary Jane McNally, Library Media Specialist, Bernards Township School District
The Board also made several new appointments with terms to expire on September 14, 2017:
- Ms. Naomi Johnson-Lafleur, Teacher, Trenton School District
- Ms. Dayna Desiderio Orlak, Teacher, Waldwick School District
NJPSA’s representative Principal Gloria Tunstall retired earlier this year. Principal Heather Moran has agreed to fill her unexpired seat. Ms. Moran’s appointment will be effective in October.
Programs to Support Student Development
Further, the Board adopted amendments to N.J.A.C. 6A:16, Programs to Support Student Development, which were generally required due to recent statutory changes related to school health and school safety and security. Specifically the changes:
- Specify the school district’s responsibilities in providing school health services to eligible nonpublic school students;
- Clarify the provisions of home or out-of-school instruction;
- Require the establishment and implementation of an emergency action plan for responding to a sudden cardiac event, including the use of an AED (as required by Janet’s Law);
- Pursuant to the Scholastic Student-Athlete Safety Act:
- Require the use of a new Pre-participation Physical Evaluation (PPE) form [2.2(h)1ii];
- Require a licensed physician, advanced practice nurse or physician assistant who completes the PPE form to complete the Student-Athlete Cardiac Screening professional development module (PD module) [2.2(h)1ii(1)]; and
- Permit a student-athlete’s parent to obtain a physical examination from a physician who can certify completion of the PD module or to request the school physician provides the examination if the PPE is submitted without the signed certification statement [2.2(h)1ii(1)(A)];
- Ensure a contract between the school district and school physician include a statement of assurance that the school physician completed the PD module [2.3(a)3]; and
- Compel the school nurse to review the Health History Update Questionnaire form and share it with the school athletic trainer, if applicable. [2.3(b)3xvi].
- Under the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act, require school districts and nonpublic schools to distribute the sudden cardiac arrest pamphlet to the student-athlete and his or her parent or guardian [2.2h(1)vi]; and
- Require a parent or other adult who has been designated by the parent, to be present during home instruction delivered in a student’s home [10.1(d)].
Fiscal Accountability, Efficiency and Budgeting Procedures
Moreover, the Board adopted changes to the current Fiscal Accountability regulations in light of litigation that made clear that regulation was not consistent with N.J.S.A. 18A:36A-12, because of statutory modification wrought by the enactment of P.L. 2000, c. 142 which repealed the part of the Charter School Act that provided the Commissioner of Education (Commissioner) discretion to reduce a school district’s charter school payment below the statutory per pupil rate.
According to current law, school districts must pay a charter school an amount equal to 90 percent of the sum of the budget year equalization aid per pupil and the pre-budget year general fund tax levy per pupil inflated by the consumer price index (CPI). Prior to the amendments made to the Charter School Act in 2000, the law provided the Commissioner the authority to require a school district to pay more or less than 90 percent of the per pupil amount. Since the section authorizing the Commissioner’s discretion was removed, repealing the rule at N.J.A.C.6A:23A-22.4(e) will align the section with current statute.
Managing for Equality and Equity in Education
The Board also moved changes to current regulation, N.J.A.C. 6A:7, Managing for Equality and Equity in Education, which is due to sunset in September. The code provision governs equality in educational programs to guarantee each student equal access to all educational programs, services and benefits of the school district regardless of his or her race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, religion, disability or socioeconomic status. The proposal includes a small number of minor amendments. In light of the tight timeline, and rather ministerial changes the Board agreed to forestall a Second discussion and move directly to proposal level at the September meeting. All of the proposed amendments in the current rulemaking are to correct statutory or Administrative Code citations, to provide clarity, or for stylistic or grammatical improvement:
- Amend the purpose to ensure the current version of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) is referenced.
- Delete common definitions.
- Amend the definition of “Achievement Gap” to reflect the change in focus to the school level.
- Delete references to the Quality Assurance Annual Report (QAAR) as this report no longer exists.
- Remove the September 30, 2003, deadline to complete a comprehensive equity plan as the deadline has passed.
Certification of School Districts
The Board approved 15 full reviews and 24 interim reviews. Appendix A (9-2-15) lists the districts and their most recent QSAC scores. As a result of the interim review, 4 districts have scored 80 percent or above in all five QSAC areas. The remaining 35 districts scored below 80% in one or more QSAC areas and will continue to 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.
Camden Special Services Enlargement of Purpose
Finally, the Board received a presentation from the Camden Education Services Commission (CECS) to allow them to begin providing services outside of Camden County. Current law establishes base parameters for the services an Ed Services Commission can provide but allows the State Board of Education to expand the scope of work of a Commission if it deems it appropriate. CECS is seeking to provide support services to surrounding communities outside of the Camden County.
- Camden ECS_Charter Expansion Document
- Camden ECS Charter Expansion Power Point (outlines current work of organization)
Public testimony for the October 7 Board Meeting will open September 18. The topics will include:
- Proposed Amendments to N.J.A.C. 6A:15, Bilingual Education
- The enlargement of the Camden Special Services District