At the Feb. 4 meeting of the State Board of Education, staff members from the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE)delivered a report detailing the advantages of the PARCC assessment over the current high school proficiency assessment.

One of the advantages is that the PARCC assessment will permit uniform score reports that will allow comparisons of students across the PARCC-participating states, something that the state cannot currently do with the HSPA. Additionally, districts will be able to measure a student’s growth from year-to-year, teachers will receive information on how each student in the class is performing and will also have the ability to do an item-analysis on each question so that instruction can be strengthened in specific areas.

Teacher Preparation Updates The State Board also discussed updates to the regulations concerning teacher preparation and licensing.  Among the proposed changes is one that requires longer student teaching experiences and requiring those who become certified through the alternate route to have 50 hours of pre-service experience and clinical experience. Currently, alternate route candidates only need 24 hours of pre-service experience with no clinical experience.

NJDOE is also proposing strengthening the requirements for substitute certification requiring all candidates for the substitute certificate to have a bachelor’s degree, up from the current 60 college credits.

Finally, the board heard an update on progress in the state-operated school district of Jersey City. The Jersey City school district grapples with challenges, including  large achievement gaps, aging facilities and other budgetary difficulties. The district has a strategic plan in place with the goal of preparing all students for college and career. The district recently founded an innovation high school which focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math).  The district will also be improving professional development for teachers and principals and increasing communication with parents.