The number of New Jersey high school students taking the SAT, ACT and Advanced Placement exams increased in the 2014-2015 school year, according to a report from New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) Assistant Commissioner Bari Erlichson at the Sept. 2 meeting of the State Board of Education.
The number of students who took the SAT saw an overall increase of 2.7 percent; minority participation also increased: the number of Hispanic students taking the test increased 9 percent, while the number of African American students participating rose 4.9 percent.
Performance on the SAT test was steady; 2015 mean scores in reading and math were down a point or two. According to Erlichson, that result is not unexpected, given the rising participation rate.
Approximately 80 percent of New Jersey students take the SAT, while about 26 percent take the ACT, reflecting the fact that some students take both tests. Participation in AP exams increased by 7.5 percent.
State Standards “Listening Tour” Open to Public
Assistant Commissioner Kim Harrington updated the State Board on progress concerning the standards review process. In May 2015, Gov. Chris Christie called on the NJDOE to present a plan to review New Jersey’s English language arts and mathematics standards, known as the Common Core State Standards. Harrington said that the review committee had its first meeting, and noted that there will be a “listening tour” to get public input on the standards. The meetings will allow for an open forum for community members, including parents and members of the business community, to address their concerns about specific standards. The three regional meetings will be held at the following locations; all meetings will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m:
- North Location: Sept. 17, Public Safety Training Academy, 500 West Hanover Ave., Parsippany
- South Location: Sept. 28, Stockton College Conference Room 101, Vera King Farris Drive, Galloway
- Central Location: Sept. 29, Mercer County Special Services School District, 1020 Old Trenton Road, Hamilton
Preregistration is required for all of the meetings and can be done online.
To further enhance public input about the standards, NJDOE is also conducting an online survey about the standards. The survey will be open until Oct. 9.
Career Readiness Education
The State Board also heard a presentation from Junior Achievement of New Jersey (JANJ), describing the importance of career readiness education and the program that JANJ delivers to K-12 students. Junior Achievement is a non-profit volunteer organization that educates students in grades K-12 about entrepreneurship, work readiness, and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. JANJ’s programs serve 57,502 students from 254 schools by providing them with free programs that correlate to the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards and are designed to foster students’ development of critical thinking skills and ability to solve real-world problems through experiential learning.
The Camden County Educational Services Commission presented the board with its request for a resolution seeking to enlarge its purpose, recognizing the fact that it provides services to public and non-public schools not only in Camden County but throughout southern New Jersey. The board discussed the resolution and will take action at a future meeting.
The State Board also approved amendments to regulations concerning student health services. The updated regulations comply with newly enacted laws including the “Scholastic Student-Athlete Safety Act,” which requires student-athletes in grades six through 12 in public and nonpublic schools to have a physical exam using the Preparticipation Physical Evaluation (PPE) form before participating in school-sponsored interscholastic or intramural athletic teams or squads. The act also requires health care practitioners who examine and screen student-athletes to complete training on student-athlete cardiac screening. In addition, the amendments comply with the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act, which requires the development of a pamphlet to provide student-athletes and their parents or guardians with information about sudden cardiac arrest, and “Janet’s Law,” which requires public and nonpublic schools to have automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and to establish emergency action plans for responding to sudden cardiac events.
The State Board also adopted regulations concerning funds paid to charter schools. According to current statute, school districts must pay a charter school an amount equal to 90 percent of the sum of the budget year equalization aid per pupil and the prebudget year general fund tax levy per pupil (inflated by the consumer price index). Prior to the amendments made to the Charter School Act in 2000, the law provided the commissioner the authority to require a school district to pay more or less than 90 percent of the per pupil amount. Since the section authorizing the commissioner’s discretion was removed, the corresponding regulation is being deleted.