The State Board of Education took up two items for consideration at its brief December meeting, discussing a proposed change in elementary science assessments, and reapproving amendments to the state’s harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) regulations.

First, the State Board continued discussions on a proposed change to New Jersey Administrative Code (N.J.A.C. 6A:8) that would require a science assessment for students in fifth grade, aligned to the state’s new elementary science standards. If the change is adopted, students in grade four would no longer take a state science assessment. The change to grade five would also apply to the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) science assessment.

The N.J. Department of Education (NJDOE) has proposed administering science assessments in fifth grade, instead of fourth, because continuing to test in grade four  would be misaligned to the standards, and would omit the grade five standards. The state will continue to administer the science assessment in grade eight and grade 11. This will fulfill federal requirements requiring states to administer a science assessment once in grades three through five; once in sixth through eighth; and once in high school.

Second, the state board also re-approved its adoption of amendments to the HIB regulations due to a procedural error in voting at its November meeting. As reported earlier in SBN, the State Board adopted revised regulations affecting how investigations are carried out and the joint responsibilities of private schools for students with disabilities and local districts in implementing effective HIB programs. The effective date for these amendments will be July 1, 2018.

New Members for State Board In a related development, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened on Dec. 7 and moved two gubernatorial nominations to the State Board of Education. The full Senate unanimously approved the nominations of both individuals at its voting session later in the day. Both will begin serving once they are sworn in at the State Board.

When the two take their seats, the State Board of Education will have a full complement of members. The newly-approved nominees are:

  • Elaine Bobgrove, of Haddon Township in Camden County, who will replace Edithe Fulton, a longtime member of the board and former president of the NJEA. Bobgrove is currently an adjunct full professor of Academic Skills English at Camden County College, and holds various union leadership roles, including serving as president of the United Adjunct Faculty of New Jersey and vice president of the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey. Her term on the State Board will run until June 2018.
  • Fatimah Burnam-Watkins, of Linden in Union County, who has been appointed to replace Dorothy Strickland and fill out the remainder of her term. Strickland resigned from her seat last year. Burnam-Watkins currently serves as the executive director of Teach for America New Jersey. Her term will expire in June 2023.