The State Board of Education took action on a variety of items at its August meeting, including adopting a resolution recommending districts take steps to foster social and emotional learning for students.

The board heard a presentation by Dr. Maurice J. Elias, director of the Rutgers Social Emotional and Character Development Lab at Rutgers University, on social emotional learning competencies.

Elias, who is nationally renowned in the field of social emotional learning, will be the keynote speaker at Workshop 2017 in October.

Social emotional learning competencies are skills such as collaboration, communication and problem-solving, that students need to succeed in the future. Specifically, the competencies include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills.

NJDOE staff also made a presentation on the competencies, prior to the State Board adopting a resolution recommending that districts adopt the competencies to “promote safe, supportive, and challenging learning environments.

Swearing-in New Members At the State Board meeting, several new members were also sworn in, and existing members were sworn in to serve additional terms. Terms on the State Board are six years. New members who were sworn in to serve on the board are:

  • Joseph Ricca, a current chief school administrator working in New York,
  • Mary Elizabeth Gazi, an attorney, and
  • Ned Johnson, a retired assistant superintendent.

Several current members were also sworn in for additional terms, including:

  • Ronald Butcher was sworn in as a member of the board. He has been on the board since 1990. This is his sixth term.
  • Ernest Lepore was sworn into his third term on the board.
  • Andrew Mulvihill was sworn into his second term on the board.

The State Board also passed resolutions honoring its former president Mark W. Biedron and its former vice president, Joe Fisicaro. The NJSBA thanks them both for their service to the students of New Jersey.

Certification of School Districts Eight school districts were certified under NJQSAC as having scored 80 percent or above in the five evaluated areas. A total of 48 districts scored below 80 percent in one or more areas and will be continuing to implement improvement plans as required by the executive county superintendent.

State Seal of Biliteracy The State Board also discussed the State Seal of Biliteracy to recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in one or more foreign languages in addition to English. Pursuant to the authorizing statute, the State Seal of Biliteracy is intended to do the following: encourage students to study languages; certify attainment of biliteracy; provide employers with a method of identifying people with language and biliteracy skills; provide universities with a method to recognize and award academic credit to applicants seeking admission; prepare students with 21st Century skills; recognize and promote foreign language instruction in public schools; and strengthen intergroup relationships, affirm the value of diversity, and honor the multiple cultures and languages of a community. The Seal of Biliteracy also has been approved in 25 other states and in Washington, D.C.