Date: Thursday, May 22, 2014
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Where: New Jersey Department of Education, 1st floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton
What they are doing: This special meeting of the State Board of Education is ostensibly to hand out various awards, like Business Administrator of the Year and Business Student of the Year, but the board will also start the process of renewing the state’s achievement standards in a number of subject areas.
What it covers: The discussion covers the renewal of the Core Curriculum Content Standards adopted in 2009 in five key content areas, including science and social studies. Much of them are unchanged, but the biggest shift would be the state’s adoption of the Next Generation science standards, which represent a significant shift in how science is taught in schools.
What it doesn’t cover: The state has already signed on to the nationally adopted Common Core State Standards, which cover language arts and math. Those standards are in place and will not be taken up in the new renewal. The subject of considerable debate nationwide, they are the basis of the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing that is slated for launch statewide next year.
Next Generation: The new science standards, developed by a national task force of science educators, have made headlines mostly for their inclusion of climate change. Some states have balked at adopting them; there has not been much resistance in New Jersey. The standards also place a greater emphasis on hands-on and experiential instruction.
Science testing: The new standards will help set the framework for science tests in New Jersey and elsewhere, as required by federal law. While not getting the same attention as reading and math, the science tests are required in elementary, middle, and high school, and the state is currently in the process of selecting a vendor for the new tests.
The other subject areas: By and large, the state Department of Education is proposing few substantive changes to the state’s remaining Core Curriculum Content Standards for social studies, arts, health and physical education, technology and world languages, according to officials.
Why the special meeting? State officials said the rare special meeting had always been planned for the awards, but also provided the state a chance to launch the public hearing schedule for the new standards before the school year has ended.
Public hearings to come: The following are the dates and places for public comment on the new standards.
June 4 -- NJ Department of Education, Trenton
June 11 -- Gloucester County Institute of Technology, Sewell
June 12 -- Somerset County Office, Somerville