State Board Reviews SEL Competencies & Gets An ESSA Update

Posted · Add Comment
The State Board of Education at their March 2017 meeting got a first look at newly created Social & Emotional Learning Competencies, received an ESSA Update and presentation on student data security and privacy.  The Board also approved changes to the current religious holiday calendar and several organizational changes.

The Board got a first glance at Social & Emotional Learning Competencies (SEL) developed in conjunction with educators from around the State.  The Department hopes to have the Board adopt the competencies at a future meeting (Proposed Resolution to Support Social and Emotional Learning Competencies).

Social and emotional learning (SEL) helps students develop the understanding, strategies and skills to:

  • Support a positive sense of self
  • Promote respectful relationships
  • Recognize and manage their own emotions
  • Make responsible decisions

These competencies promote positive school climates and prepare students for post-secondary success.  SEL programs are shown to reduce student high-risk behaviors.  Students in SEL programs are more likely to attend school, less likely to have conduct problems and receive better grades.  Students with explicit SEL instruction: Gain self-discipline and initiative; Improve their communication skills and ability to advocate; Are better able to work with others, understand differing viewpoints and collaborate; and Have an understanding of social responsibility and their role as citizens.

The competencies were developed in concert with stakeholders, including principals, teachers, and other school leaders, as well as the Association over the last two years.   The work group went in the direction of ‘competencies’ rather than ‘standards’ to allow for better developmental progression and to also support educators with strategies and resources for each competency.

The competencies are meant to be implemented across the curriculum at all grade levels.  They include five (5) core competencies (Self Management, Self Awareness, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision Making) as well as several sub-competencies as follows:


The Department is seeking comment over the next 30 days on the competencies.  They have additionally launched a webpage that includes resources for educators.

ESSA Update

The Department also provided the Board with an update on where they are in their plan to submit the New Jersey ESSA State Plan by April 3.  Last week the Department released their draft proposal and is now within the 30 day comment period (NJDOE Releases ESSA Plan and Asks for Public Comment, February 15, 2017).  The presentation included information on Department initiatives to obtain stakeholder feedback.


The Department also encouraged Board Members and stakeholders to register for a webinar.  There are two more scheduled as follows:

  •    Thursday, March 2, 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
  •    Tuesday, March 7, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Org Changes

The Board additionally approved several title and organization changes.  Specifically, John Worthington was named Director of the Office of Special Education Policies and Procedures and Lorelei Drew Novela was named Director of the Office of Special Education Professional Development. The organizational changes reflect those two changes and also include the addition of the Deputy Chief Academic Officer/Post-Secondary Readiness/Partnerships and the deletion of the Office of Teaching and Learning Support and Fiscal Accountability.

Date Security & Privacy

The Department also provided the Board with a presentation on data security and privacy as it relates to student records.  Under the law, the Department is required to collect and store student and educator records.  This obligation includes both a responsibility to ensure:

  • Data Security: Implementation of safeguards to ensure data is protected from unauthorized access, use, intrusion or modification (e.g. Firewalls, Encryption, Back Ups); and
  • Data Privacy: Appropriate use and access of data by individuals or groups to ensure behaviors are followed to protect data (e.g. Authorized access controls, view/share/edit privileges)

Department policies also align with federal law and best practices to ensure the privacy of our student data.

Bilingual Teacher Cut Score

Additionally, the Board approved modification of the qualifying score for candidates for Teacher of Bilingual and Bicultural Education.  The rule change modifies existing  requirements as it relates to the written proficiency test (WPT) in the target language and in the English language for the endorsement for Teacher of Bilingual and Bicultural Education in accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A:9B-5.14 and N.J.A.C. 6A:9B-11.5(a)2i1.  The resolution would reduce down the current qualifying score from ‘Advanced Low’ to ‘Intermediate High’ as a qualifying score for passing.  The change will increase the population of applicants by 10 to 15 percent.

Regulatory Flexibility and Relief Package

Further, the Board adopted changes to several code provisions that the Department argues will create additional efficiencies for districts and the State.

Changes are proposed for the following titles:

  • N.J.A.C. 6A:3, Controversies and Disputes
  • N.J.A.C. 6A:9, Professional Standards
  • N.J.A.C. 6A:11, Charter Schools
  • N.J.A.C. 6A:32, School District Operations

The changes to N.J.A.C. 6A:9, Professional Standards, are particularly germane to school leaders as it updates the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders to the 2015 standards which:

  • Are set forth by the National Policy Board for Educational Administration; and
  • Are considered to be a complete “refresh” of the ISLLC 2008 standards

The change has long been recommended by the State Professional Learning Committee (which includes school districts, universities, and NJPSA).

Controversies and Disputes

Also approved at proposal level changes to N.J.A.C. 6A:3, Controversies and Dispute code.  While the rules remain substantially the same as current rules, the proposal includes several amendments for clarity and stylistic or grammatical improvement, includes some flexibility for pro se litigants and creates some exceptions to general appeal requirements that clarifies that residency petitions may be filed after the statutory time period for automatic continued enrollment has expired, subject to the granting of a motion for emergent relief.  In light of the package’s limited changes, the Board is expediting the review process.

Religious Holiday Calendar

In addition, the Board not only approved changes to this year’s religious calendar but also got an initial look at the calendar for next year.  The changes for this year include the addition of  ‘Jonah’s Passover’ celebrated on February 9, 2017 and ‘Last Friday of The Great Lent’ celebrated on April 7, 2017 both of the Eastern Orthodox Christian.

Certification of School Districts

Finally, the Board approved 14 reviews (2 full and 12 interim) under NJQSAC. Appendix A  lists all of the districts and their DPR scores.  One district scored 80 percent or above in all five DPR areas and were approved for a period of three years.  Thirteen districts scored below 80% in one or more DPR areas and were required to develop and implement a QSAC improvement plan to address deficient indicators.