At the recent July monthly State Board of Education meeting, the board heard various updates and took action on a variety of items.

The State Board unanimously re-elected Arcelio Aponte as president. Aponte was first appointed to the board in 2005. The group also unanimously elected Kathy Goldenberg, a former member of the Moorestown Board of Education, as vice-president. Goldenberg was appointed to the state board in 2017.

Standards and Assessment The State Board heard an update from New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) staff on outreach efforts as the department transitions from the PARCC assessments. The NJDOE engaged in a two-month listening tour that included visits to all 21 counties, approximately 75 in-person sessions, and three live webinars. More than 2,300 students, teachers, school administrators, education advocates and community leaders provided input to the NJDOE.  Common themes expressed during the outreach included: reducing the amount of statewide testing in high school and the time of the PARCC test itself; reducing the weight given to the PARCC in educator evaluation; maintaining rigor in our assessment system; and clearly communicating any changes and providing smooth implementation.

The NJDOE outlined the current requirements for the statewide assessments. Since 2015, New Jersey has required that students take and pass the PARCC Algebra 1 and ELA (English Language Arts) 10 assessments to meet the state’s assessment graduation requirement. Students in the class of graduating classes of 2018 and 2019 who do not pass the PARCC Algebra 1 and ELA 10 assessments have access to a menu of alternative pathways to meet the state’s graduation requirements. Per current regulations, students in the class of 2020 who do not pass the Algebra 1 and ELA 10 assessments must take all assessments (ELA 9, ELA 10, ELA 11, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra II) which they were eligible for in order to be afforded the opportunity to utilize alternate pathway(s) to meet the state’s graduation requirements.

Proposed Changes The NJDOE also outlined the proposed changes for the state’s assessment system. The NJDOE proposes to eliminate the state end-of-course assessments required for Geometry, Algebra II, ELA 9, and ELA 11. Further, the NJDOE proposes to eliminate the requirement that Class of 2021 students pass a statewide assessment to graduate and proposes to maintain a list of substitute assessments, including portfolio appeals options for students in Class of 2020 and beyond who do not pass the state math or ELA assessments.

Further, the NJDOE is proposing that chief school administrators have no more than 45 days (currently 60 days) to report their assessment results to their boards of education and no more than 45 days (there is currently no limit) to ensure applicable student results are provided to students, parents, and teachers in a timely manner. For English Language Learners, the NJDOE is proposing to extend the rule that allows students in their first year in the U.S. to substitute a language proficiency test to apply to high school students, not just elementary and middle school students. For special education students, the NJDOE is proposing to clarify that a student’s IEP or 504 plan establishes the individualized accommodations, instructional adaptations, and/or modifications that a district board of education must provide. The full text of the proposed changes is available here.

State Special Education Advisory Council—The State Board re-appointed five individuals to the council for two-year terms. They are: Dr. Paul Barbato, Susan Colacello, Deborah Lynam, Leslie Rubinstein and Dr. Christopher Shamburg.

The State Special Education Advisory Council is required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act(IDEA) of 2004. The role of the council is to advise the NJDOE of unmet educational needs of children with disabilities; comment publicly on any rules or regulations proposed by the department regarding these children; and advise the NJDOE in developing evaluations and reporting on data to the U. S. Department of Education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The council also must advise the NJDOE in developing corrective action plans to address findings identified in federal monitoring reports under this part; and advise the NJDOE in developing and implementing policies relating to the coordination of services for children with disabilities.