What: State Board of Education monthly meeting
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014
Time: 10 a.m.
Where: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton
What they are doing: The state board will hear a series of reports, including the annual summary of information about the state’s Class of 2014 and its graduation statistics. It will also receive updates on the state’s implementation of the new online tests under the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and its ongoing monitoring of school districts under the Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC).
Italian heritage: Not necessarily big policy news, but the board will also hear from the Italian and Italian-American Heritage Commission, created in 2002 to promote the teaching and awareness of the state’s strong Italian roots. The commission has developed a curriculum for public schools to follow that includes suggested readings at different grade levels, as well as historic figures and milestones for study.
Class of 2014, without the pomp and circumstance: The annual report on the state’s high school graduates is a statistical snapshot that includes information on how many graduated on time, what post-high school paths they are following, and any achievement gaps between categories of students. This will be the last report before this spring’s launch of the new PARCC exams in high schools, which will not yet be required for graduation but sure to become the prominent pathway to earning a diploma.
PARCC update: The advent of the new PARCC tests has been among the most anticipated — and in some quarters, most feared — changes to New Jersey public education in years. Assistant Education Commissioner Bari Erlichson will update the board on the state’s progress in preparing for the tests and the school districts’ own readiness for the all-online exams.
QSAC update: The monitoring system has been around for more than a decade, but has always been a lightning rod for criticism about whether it is looking at the best measures of the quality of schools and school districts.
The system has come under even more scrutiny as the Christie administration has used QSAC to retain control over four of the state’s largest school districts – Newark, Paterson, Jersey City and Camden – with no clear end in sight for the state oversight. At least one legislative bill now pending would amend QSAC to include more specific guidelines for when the state must cede control.
Other business: Other routine business awaiting the board includes the annual adoption of accepted religious holidays, appointments to the state’s special education task force, and administrative code changes dealing with teacher effectiveness and student supports.
No testimony: There will be no public testimony session in the afternoon.