In the highest-profile action at its monthly meeting on Aug. 3, the State Board of Education voted to require the PARCC assessment as a high school graduation requirement beginning with the class of 2021 (see previous story). However, the board also took other action and heard updates on other matters of interest to local boards:

Performance Assessment for Novice Teachers The state board approved passing scores

for its performance assessment of novice teachers. In 2015, the State Board approved regulations requiring that anyone who sought a standard teaching certificate must pass an approved performance assessment starting in 2017. More information is available online here.

Newark Makes Progress Toward Full Local Control. The State Board authorized the return of personnel functions to local control in the Newark school district, enabling the local board of education to begin voting on personnel matters. “Governance and Instruction” and “Program” remain under partial state intervention.

Student Transportation The State Board continued its discussion of proposed regulations that will require school buses manufactured on or after July 17, 2016, to be equipped with a sensor “to determine the presence of objects in the front or back of the bus,” as required by state law.

Recognition of State Board Member. The State Board recognized the work of member Dorothy Strickland, who resigned from the board after eight years of service to the children of New Jersey.

Certification of School Districts One school district was certified for three years and eighteen other districts scored below 80 percent in one or more QSAC areas and will continue to implement QSAC improvement plans to address deficient indicators. More information is available online here.

Additional Religious Holidays Recognized. The State Board added two more days to its list of religious holidays for which an excused absence may be taken. State law provides that any student absent from school because of a religious holiday may not be deprived of any award or of eligibility or the opportunity to compete for any award because of such absence, and must have the opportunity to have a make-up test should any test be given on a religious holiday. The student must present a written excuse signed by a parent or guardian which is then recorded as an excused absence. The state-approved list is to be considered a minimum list. Boards of education, at their discretion, may add other days to the list for the schools of their districts.

Other Action The State Board also approved the Monmouth Ocean Educational Services Commission’s request to provide services to entities outside of Monmouth and Ocean counties.