Agenda: Should PARCC Exam Be Required for High-School Graduation?

Protests planned before board meeting; replacement of Common Core also slated for first vote

state seal
Date: Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Time: 10 a.m.

Where: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st-floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton

Busy policy day: The State Board of Education has a host of contentious issues before it this month, ranging from continued discussion of new high school graduation requirements to newly proposed changes in the state’s anti-bullying rules.

The board will also take another step toward accepting revisions to the Common Core State Standards and renaming them the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.

And the board will consider a rare request to stay an earlier vote in what appeared a routine action, in this case the renaming of a special services district.

Graduation tests: Culminating months of debate, the State Board will vote on adopting new testing requirements for high school graduates, starting with the Class of 2021. The proposal calls for students that year to have passed at least the new PARCC language arts test for 10th- graders and the Algebra I math test. Currently, PARCC is just one option for meeting a testing requirement for graduation.

The measure still must go through a final public review, but board president Mark Biedron yesterday said there is not much question it will pass. “Yes, we are moving ahead,” he said.

Protests notwithstanding: Parents and others opposed to the state’s reliance on the PARCC testing in all grades have planned a protest outside the board meeting, starting at 9:30 a.m.

Anti-bullying rules revised: The State Board will hold its first discussion on extensive revisions to the regulations attached to the state’s historic anti-bullying law, many of them proposed by a task force earlier this winter. Among the changes would be revising the definition of bullying and harassment to include some specification of a “power imbalance” between the students involved. Another would give principals a process for determining whether an anti-bullying investigation should be launched in the first place, further clarifying the principal’s role.

All in a name: The State Board is slated to hold first discussion on a resolution that would effectively end the use of the Common Core in New Jersey, at least by that name. The resolution would rename the standards for language arts and math as the New Jersey Student Learning Standards, as recommended by a working group created by the Christie administration after the governor disavowed the standards last summer. The group also recommended a series of revisions, a vast majority having to do with the language and what is emphasized in the standards.

All in a name, Part II: The State Board’s approval of the Middlesex Regional Educational Services District becoming the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey has been challenged by other county schools, and the board will face a rare request to stay its decision.