Last May, Gov. Chris Christie directed the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to review the Common Core State Standards, which encompass the state’s English language arts and mathematics standards.

At the State Board of Education meeting on Monday, Jan. 11, the Academic Standards Review Committee released its recommendations for proposed revisions to the standards. The new standards will be renamed the “New Jersey Student Learning Standards.”

“New Jersey has embraced standards-based education for two decades, and those standards have been continuously revised and improved,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “We welcome this initiative to revise the standards, with the goal of better preparing our students for higher education and the workplace.”

The new standards will be substantially the same as the Common Core Standards.  Kimberley Harrington, NJDOE’s chief academic officer noted at the meeting that the state was not looking to develop a whole new set of standards, but to improve upon the existing ones.

However, there were more than 200 recommendations for the new standards, including:

  • Clarification that informational text is not emphasized over literature. The revisions emphasize “appropriate attention,” to literature, while “maintaining the importance of informational text and research.”
  • The addition of “self-reflection,” to multiple English language arts standards. The Common Core Standards emphasize “cold reads” in which a child reads a text for the first time and must decipher its meaning. The concept of self-reflection, recognizes that comprehension can be cultivated when children apply their life experiences, and previous texts they have read.
  • Mathematics standards were revised with language better aligned to classroom instruction; math standards were also clarified through the use of examples.

It is anticipated that the State Board will be asked to accept the standards at the May 2016 meeting of the group.  Throughout the winter and spring, there will be public hearings and opportunity for further discussion. If approved, the standards would go into effect in the 2017-2018 school year.

The NJDOE noted that the Standards Review Committee included 26 members; while the three subcommittees advising the committee had an additional 68 members. In addition, the NJDOE conducted a survey, focus groups and a listening tour to encourage public input into the revised standards.

The New Jersey School Boards Association had two representatives on the standards review committee: John Bulina, NJSBA immediate past president and member of the Tabernacle board, and Dominic Miletta, Pittsgrove Township school board president and vice president of the Salem County School Boards Association.

The executive summary of the report is available online here.

Other State Board Action

At its Jan. 11 meeting, the State Board also adopted a resolution approving the standard setting scores for the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM). DLM measures the performance of students with the most significant intellectual disabilities on skills linked to the standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. These skills are of lower complexity and difficulty levels than the skills assessed in PARCC. DLM is an online computer-adaptive assessment that assesses what a student knows and can do. Approximately 9,960 New Jersey students were assessed by the 2014-2015 DLM from grades 3 through 8 and grade 11. The 2014-2015 administration was the first operational administration of DLM.

In prior years, English Language Arts and math were assessed using the Alternate Proficiency Assessment portfolio system. Child study teams determine whether students with disabilities participate in the PARRC or the DLM based on specific criteria.The DLM provides an opportunity to assess the knowledge and skills of students with the most significant intellectual disabilities on more challenging concepts.