State Board Gets Update on PARCC, Hears from Public on Proposed Grad Requirements & NJ Standards

Posted · Add Comment

The New Jersey State Board of Education got an update on PARCC and took testimony on proposed changes to New Jersey’s graduation requirements as well as its academic standards (core curriculum content standards).  NJPSA testified on topics.  The Board also heard from Jersey City’s and Paterson’s Superintendent on work within their district, simultaneously returning two areas of local control to Paterson at an active February Board meeting.

PARCC Update

Former Assistant Commissioner Bari Erlichson provided the Board with a presentation on using data to inform curriculum and instruction.  Erlichson cited both Education Next’s A rating of the State as it relates to its standards as well as Achieve’s ‘Honesty Gap’ rating which showed that the State had made ‘significant gains’ in addressing the achievement gap.

Erlichson also provided the Board with an overview of how the PARCC assessment provides more precise data on students and their mastery of language arts and math, particularly at the ends of the scale – dubbed floor and ceiling effects.  Arguing that the new assessment system better tested the full range of content of a grade level, Erlichson indicated that the new assessment moved the ‘top tier’ from 9500 students to 50 students.




Nonetheless Erlichson also touted the fact that the transition to PARCC was aided by work at the Department to align the ASK to the Common Core state standards.  As evidence of this, she pointed to the fact that 55 percent to students in grade 5 exceed expectations on PARCC.

parcc perf math g5

parcc perf lal g5

Also discussed was the more robust item analysis that schools will have access to for individual students, classes and schools.  According to Erlichson item analysis will be available the week of February 22, with item analysis for students following in the weeks after.

In more distressing news, the Board also heard about the significant drop off in grade 9 Algebra 1 test takers.  While school’s ability to properly identify and support Algebra 1 middle school participants, questions were raised about the drop off in grade 9.  The table below provides outcomes for grade 9 test takers.

algebra1 expect

algebra1 expect1

Graduation Requirements

Further, the Board had a brief second discussion on proposed changes to graduation requirements, prior to taking public testimony on the changes in the afternoon.  NJPSA weighed in on the proposal in concert with other advocates.

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:




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:

overview of changes

overview of changes1

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).

NJPSA supports the proposal, although the Association raised the need to articulate the definition of the portfolio assessment more affirmatively.

NJ Standards

In addition, the Board took testimony on proposed changes to New Jersey’s academic standards.

Last month, 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:

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.

Supporting Documents

NJPSA testified before the Board on the proposed standards changes saying thank you for the discrete nature of changes made.  We also applauded Department efforts to provide resources and support to the field in light of the changes.

Bilingual Education

The Board additionally approved changes to the current Bilingual Education code, N.J.A.C. 6A:15.  Changes are predominately ministerial, although notification rules are amended under the approved code.

Paterson & Jersey City

Further, the Board heard presentation from the Superintendents of both Paterson and Jersey City about ongoing work in their districts.

Paterson was also afforded the return of local control in two additional areas under NJQSAC.  The City received return of local control as it relates to operations back in June of 2014.  Today’s approval added Fiscal Management and Personnel to that list of areas.

School Ethics Commission

Finally, the Board had a first and second discussion on current code related to the School Ethics Commission, N.J.A.C. 6A:28.  The provision is proposed for readoption without amendment.